When the Munchkin was a baby, crawling around & putting anything & everything in her house, we made sure to keep small toys & stuff out of her reach, because there is always that warning: “Small parts can be choking hazards”. But it’s not toys that were ever our problem: it’s food. And well, food, you kinda have to eat, right?
My child has now choked on her food 3 times. THREE. In the course of the past 4 months. And that’s approximately how many years she’s scared off my life!
The first time was while eating a snack of strawberries on the floor. I was washing dishes, and periodically looking over my shoulder to check on her, to see her with this expression on her face, making no noise. I asked if she was okay, no answer, so I rushed over, stood her up & did the Heimlich. I am not trained for it, but I know how it works. First time, got a little out. But still, not making a sound. Second time was the charm, and she gasped & crying commenced. Whew.
Since when are strawberries choking hazards? Well, pretty much everything is a choking hazard in our house. Mission Control gave me the wise advice to not cut up things too much, and allow them to take bites, where they might size it better for their mouths. So with that, we now either keep strawberries totally whole (these were only cut in half!!) OR cut them up into small, small pieces. We also work on telling her to eat one bite at a time. It’s mostly helped. But…
2nd incident: A “hot dog”. Okay, so that IS a choking hazard. We actually cook turkey sausage and call it hot dogs, as hot dogs are full of nitrates and are going to kill us all, if they don’t just try & choke us first.
Wait, so what was I talking about? Okay, this time at dinner. And one Heimlich, and she was fine. We now make sure to cut them lengthwise in half.
3rd time? Well, this time was this weekend, eating a piece of bacon. Whole bacon, she chewed the bite herself. But again. Weird face, could tell something wasn’t right. This time she was more gagging, and made some noise, and all it took was just picking her out of her seat & holding her up for a second, and she got it out herself This is a VERY important distinction, parents of young children: Gagging they can often take care of themselves, and should mostly be left alone to work the food out. Choking is *silent*. Gagging will make lots of gagging noises, and is simply food a bit too far in the back of the mouth, and sets off the gag reflex (which is far forward in a baby, and gradually moves back into the back of the mouth as they grow). If your baby is gagging, you leave them alone, don’t pat them on the back…because you can actually make it worse by patting them on the back & move the food farther BACK in the throat (although you DO want to hit the back hard for real choking). Choking, on the other hand, is silent. And that’s why it’s important to watch your kid eat, because you might not get notice of a noise to warn you something bad is happening.
So in any event, what it comes down to is: There’s no particular “choking hazard” food in our house. Everything & anything the Munchkin eats is a choking hazard. So the rules have always been, and continue to be: She is not ever ever allowed to eat unattended. I don’t know how old she will be before we can leave her alone!
Handy enough, I just found this new app from the Red Cross. Read up on how to treat choking & other scary events!