Young children, particularly toddlers, will often put things in their mouth as a way of exploring their surroundings. While this is not always a cause for concern, small objects can get lodged in your child’s airway and cause them to choke. Luckily, there are plenty of ways for parents, childcarers and guardians to prevent choking incidents from occurring.
While there are many preventative measures that can be taken, if an emergency situation arises, it’s important that you are able to act promptly. To familiarise yourself with first aid techniques, health and safety experts like Phoenix Health and Safety offer a number of first aid training courses designed to help you deal with common medical emergencies.
This guide will help to shed some light on how you can prevent choking and ensure your child’s safety.
When youngsters are tottering around, it’s crucial that the floor and any low surfaces are free from small objects that they could put in their mouth. Carry out a thorough check of the house and scan for any coins, toys or other small items that may look tempting to a toddler. Make sure that you do a careful clean-up of each area of your home you intend to let your child play in. If you have prepared a meal, make sure you give the kitchen floor a thorough sweep to remove any food droppings.
Supervise meal times
During meals, you should encourage your child to chew their food thoroughly and emphasise the importance of swallowing before they talk. Try to avoid feeding kids when they are slouched or sprawled out on the sofa, as this can make swallowing difficult. It is also a good idea to teach children that they should never run or play with chewing gum or sweets in their mouth.
If your child is under the age of four, steer clear of any foods that could potentially block their airway, such as nuts, seeded foods, popcorn and grapes. Hard food and food that clumps should also be regarded as choking hazards. Try chopping food into bite-sized pieces and provide plenty of liquids during meal times. If serving vegetables, cook them for slightly longer than usual to make them softer.
It’s important to make sure that the food you give your child is appropriate to their age and stage of development. For example, a baby with no teeth should not be given solid foods.
What should I do if my child starts choking?
If a child has started to choke and the airway is partially blocked, they should be able to clear the blockage themselves. In the case of mild choking, you should prompt your child to continue to cough until the airway is clear while attempting to remove any visible blockage with your fingers.
If the airway is fully blocked, the child will not be able to breathe and will require immediate intervention. In the case of severe choking, stand behind them, lean them forward and give several sharp blows to their back with your hand. If they continue to choke, you will need to administer abdominal thrusts. Place your arms around their waist, angle them forward and push both hands backwards in one swift movement. Repeat this action until the object comes out of their mouth. However, it is important to note that abdominal thrusts should only be performed on children who are over the age of one.
If your child is suffering from a consistent cough or feels as though something is still stuck in their throat, they may require medical assistance. If your efforts have failed to stop your child from choking, you will need to call 999 for help and continue performing emergency techniques until an ambulance arrives.
Of course, this is the worst case scenario. Being diligent with your cleaning efforts and keeping a watchful eye on your child should be enough to ensure that you avoid everyday choking hazards.
This is a collaborative post