I know this post may seem a bit overprotective: you simply can’t shield your kids from EVERYTHING that might cause them harm (I won’t deny having asked my GP about a babyhelmet for my daughter to wear around the house). That being said, I came across an article recently where I read that the top cause of food-related choking incidents in children under the age of 3 was the hotdog (17% of all reported cases!). To create awareness for easily preventable household dangers like the hotdog, here are 8 of the most notorious culprits:
1. Hot dogs. I, for one, would not have guessed these would make it into the top 8-choking hazardous foods, but these are in fact the #1 most choked on food! To make them safe(r) to eat for your kids: cut them lengthwise and chop them up in very small and irregular pieces. Ps: chopping them up will not make them healthier *sad face*. Good alternative: instead of feeding your kids hotdogs, you can also dress them up as one ;).
2. Coins. Apart from the fact that money in general is usually covered in all sorts of crazy germs, (money has been proven to be dirtier that your average toilet seat!! The likes of MRSA and other food poisoning bacteria have been found on coins.) once ingested they can become stuck in the passage to the stomach. Here are some useful tips about what to do when your kid has swallowed a coin. We pop them all in a piggy bank stored out of our daughters (increasingly large) reach.
3. Balloons. I know they make for a great party decoration, but balloons actually cause more choking deaths in children than any other nonfood product! Once a child gets a hold of a (piece of a) balloon and instead of blowing it up they might inhale and the balloon gets sucked into their airway. It is nearly impossible to get the balloon back out and your child can easily suffocate because their airpipe is sealed closed by the (piece of) balloon!
4. Nuts/popcorn. Not only do these cause a risk of choking, they can also be lodged into your kids lungs! This is called aspiration pneumonia and it can damage the lungs or cause a blockage because the food particle will swell up from the fluid in the lungs. This, in turn, can lead to an infection, such as bacterial pneumonia. Check this website for more details on symptoms and treatment.
5. Small batteries. Any battery that is small enough to swallow (you’d be surprised). Especially so-called button-batteries are extremely dangerous. Why are these so dangerous? Button batteries aren’t just a choking risk: if a button battery gets stuck in the throat or gullet this can trigger the electrical charge they carry and create caustic soda (the chemical used to unblock drains!). This can burn a hole through the throat and lead to serious internal bleeding, potentially causing long-term damage and even death.
6. Whole grapes. Your average toddler’s windpipe is about the same width as your pinky finger and the esophagus is only a wee bit bigger. Grapes can get stuck in there pretty easily. I know, cutting each and every grape your child wants to eat in tiny parts is a pretty tedious chore… So to make your grapes childproof with little effort: try a grape-cutter like the one above! Bonus: can also be used on tomatoes. Other dangerous fruits are: apples (instead of cutting them up, try grating an apple or cooking them into applesauce to mix things up a little), and melon balls. A dangerous veggie is the raw carrot.
7. Hard candy. Even though these are made to be appealing to kids with their bright and shiny exterior, they are VERY VERY unsuitable for kids under 4 (at least). People without kids mostly won’t know this and with the best intentions, they’ll offer your child some candy. I know they only mean well, but if this escapes moms sight it can turn into a very dangerous situation!
8. Laundry detergent. Kids can easily mistake those shiny and colorful detergent pods for candy and will generally pop whatever they find in their mouths to have a quick taste. In 2013 an 7-month old baby died from ingesting a laundry detergent pod in Kissimmee, Florida. Once ingested a detergent pod causes internal burns which can leads to respiratory distress requiring intubation, and if not treated immediately it can be fatal. So if you use these: store them someplace your kids can not reach.