How to Prevent Choking and Strangulation Prevention for Babies and Kids

Safety Team
Updated Aug 6, 2020
3 min read

The last thing any parent expects is for their child to suddenly choke or strangle. As much as we don’t want the unthinkable to happen, parents must be prepared for their little one’s hands to get a hold of anything. 

According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a child could suffer from brain damage or death from choking or strangulation in less than four minutes. There are a few ways to reduce the risk of choking and strangulation around the house. Start with these easy need-to-knows.

Common Food Choking Concerns

It’s easy for kids to choke when swallowing food and drinks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends never letting your child eat in a car or stroller. Instead, your child should be sitting in a high chair or in an upright position. Children should also never talk with food in their mouths or overstuff their mouths with too much food. 

It’s also just as important to only feed your child food that’s appropriate for their age. Some foods are easier for babies and toddlers to choke on, including whole berries, cherries or raw vegetables. You should also watch out for large pieces of meat, candy and nuts for children 6-12 months old. The list of food choking hazards will become much shorter after the first 24 months. 

Other Hazards to Keep an Eye Out For

Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Curriculum Designer and Writer for Master of Mixed Maternal Arts. She shared some less common hazards that are easy for children to grab without a second thought. 

When parents are doing a safety check in their home, they should look for anything that can go around their child’s neck. This includes electrical cords, wires, headphone cords, shoelaces, dog leashes, loose guitar strings, bands, or rope of any kind,” she shared. 

Forry added “I recommend to all parents to install cordless blinds or to secure the cord by wrapping it around a hook out of reach from their child. In terms of choking and loose objects, anything smaller than a half-dollar should be removed from your child’s reach.”

Parents should also be especially careful of toy packaging and age recommendations. Toys for older kids include small parts that aren’t suitable for younger ones. Experts shared there are many other choking and strangling hazards to watch out for. Here’s a short list: 

  • Latex balloons 
  • Toys or household objects with small parts 
  • Beads and other small hair accessories
  • Buttons, coins or other small round objects 

Watch Out for Pet Hair

Scubba diving dad and Editor-in-Chief of Dive In, Torben Lonne, shared a parent’s biggest nightmare for families with long-haired pets for parents to think about when it comes to pet grooming. 

“As a dad that raised two kids alongside our beloved long-haired pup, I’ve unpleasantly discovered one of them choking on long fur he yanked from the dog’s tail and stuck right in his mouth. A single hair is not bad, but a large handful is. It caused him to start gagging, then choking on a combination of his own saliva and tangled dog hair,” Lonne shared.

Lonne held his child’s mouth and used two fingers to reach and grab fur out of his throat and mouth.

“Since the event I’ve started grooming my dog more, and keeping my eyes on my son more when he’s near the dog to keep him from ripping out the dog’s fur. The grooming has helped some, but mostly watching my son more closely has prevented any more incidents when he was growing up. In times when he was persistent in bugging the dog to go out and play, I put the dog in my room and [closed] the door to give him some peace,” he said. 

Lonne advised parents with long-haired pets to keep a close eye on the interactions between your pet and baby so you can quickly step in just in case of emergencies. 

“Also, you can consider buying a Roomba for the sole purpose of keeping pet hair in check, trust me it helps!”

What to Do If Your Child is Choking or Strangling

If a child is choking or strangling, they may not be able to breathe or speak to alert you. Stanford Children’s Health said children may also show signs by gagging or making high-pitched sounds. Their experts also outlined a step-by-step guide to help babies and children up to eight years old if they’re choking. After you follow their instructions, remember to take your child to the doctor immediately for further examination of smaller pieces that still may be stuck and dangerous. If you’re having any trouble or if your child faints, call 911 immediately. 

How to Prevent Choking and Strangulation

Take time to get on the floor and look for things at your child’s level. You may be surprised to find the small hazards or big objects that are easy to turn over. This is also the perfect opportunity to start childproofing your home. You’ll have a clear view of small objects, sharp corners and other areas that could be dangerous to your little one. 

Kids Health shared that parents should look for objects that are bigger than three centimeters in diameter and six centimeters long to help reduce the risk of choking or strangulation. You can get a ‘small part tester’ to check to see if objects fit through the tube. If so, it’s likely too small for children ages 3 and under. Keep in mind that every child is different and this should not be the only guide you have to determine whether or not an object is a hazard. 

Wrapping Up

There’s not a guaranteed way to make sure your child doesn’t suffer from choking or strangulation, but some preventative measures can go a long way. Remember to keep your home clear of small pieces and don’t hesitate to buy a choke tube to help you determine what’s too small. Pay close attention when your child is eating, around pets or even playing. Those few seconds can save your child’s life. 

Home Security Experts

Safety Team

The Safety Team is a group of experts that handle provider research, product reviews and recalls to make your home safety and security search as easy as 1-2-3.

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