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Baby Development – How to Prevent Choking in Infants

Posted Oct 30 2009 11:00pm

By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kid’s Nutrition Specialist

Mum Mum’s recently discussed introducing solids to your infant. As babies learn how to chew and swallow foods, the risk of choking is ever present and the main reason why this topic deserved its own post. Choking is scary for both children and parents and can happen anytime anywhere, but there are things parents can do to help prevent choking.
Timing is Everything
Before giving solids, make sure she is ready to begin eating solid foods by expressing the physical signs, which typically arrive around 6 months of age. Trying to feed a baby solids before these new abilities are present drastically increases the risk of choking. Signs include:
• She can sit up on her own
• He is eager to participate in meal time and may start grabbing at the food or spoon to try to feed himself
• He has mastered the ‘pincer grasp’ – using the thumb and pointer finger to pick up food or other objects
• She has lost the tongue-thrust reflex or does not automatically push foods out of her mouth
• He is willing and ready to chew
Set the Scene
Be sure your child is sitting up in a high chair or booster seat at the table without distractions like the TV in a calm environment. Do not let your little one eat away from the table, this is an unhealthy habit to start and many children choke because they are eating while playing.

Avoid the 4 food groups
No, not those food groups, but the 4 categories of foods that present the greatest choking risk for babies:

1. Crispy, crunchy: these include raw carrots, celery or other uncut raw veggies, peanuts or other nuts, sunflower seeds, fruits with pits, popcorn, dried beans and peas

2. Round and rubbery: these foods include hot dogs, whole grapes, gummy or jelly candies, fruit snacks, and uncut spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, olives, and raisins

3. Small and tough: foods like hard candies, or gum; and this category also includes tiny bones from fish and poultry so be sure to remove bones carefully
4. Thick and chunky: avoid large chunks of meat, cheese, or spoonfuls of any nut butters
Let’s not forget about the non-foods as well like coins or any other tiny object that might be lying around the house. Babies put everything in their mouths as a means to identify so once your little one is on the move be sure to keep all tiny objects such as coins, balloons, batteries, plastics, small toy parts out of infant reach.
Be Prepared
It cannot be stressed enough that adult supervision is critical during baby’s meal times. The website Be Prepared offers a downloadable infant CPR sheet that can be posted in the house. Parents can also contact their local Red Cross or the American Heart Association to brush up on infant first aid and CPR.

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