How to prevent your child from choking

947463_94785809Young 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.

Tidy up

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

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3 Comments

  1. November 5, 2014 / 9:38 am

    An informative post. One thing that is so important to know is that when an airway is occluded (and true choking is occurring), is that the child will not be able to make a sound. So where a child who has taken a mouthful that is too big and is coughing is a good sign (they have an airway, and their reflexes are working well to bring the food up), no sound at all requires immediate action. A choking child will be unable to talk, breathe and sometimes be unable to induce a cough. It is so important to be able to watch children eating as opposed to listening. A lot of people panic at a coughing child, but a child who is blue and silent is the real worry.

  2. November 2, 2014 / 10:47 am

    We have a seventeen year old son who has trouble swallowing and the fear of him choking is always at the back of my mind when he eats certain foods. We have had a few scares over the years and I hate it.

    Parents should always be aware of the risk of children choking and never, ever allow them to run around eating. It still makes my toes curl when I see a child running around playing with a sweet or worse still, a lolly on a stick. Teaching a child to sit and eat properly isn’t difficult and if done from an early age, there will never be the problem of them wanting to run around whilst eating.

  3. October 29, 2014 / 6:41 pm

    Fantastic post and what to do if a child chokes is something everyone should know how to deal with x
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