When these small objects, this includes certain foods are caught in your little one’s throat, it can block their airway, preventing oxygen from travelling to their brain and lungs.
Brain damage, and even death, can occur if he goes more than four minutes without oxygen.
So, besides making sure that your toddler’s food is well-cut up or blended (depending on their feeding abilities), take care that these 12 common objects or foods don’t find themselves making a way to junior’s mouth.
Scroll through our photo gallery to find out what these are.
# 1 Water beads
If your munchkin likes sensory play, chances are, you’ll have water beads at home. They are often found in flower arrangements, but have recently become popular as sensory playthings, thanks to the bright colours and slippery, squishy textures. These tiny polymer balls soak up fluids and expand up to 400 times their original size. However, children have been known to have been hospitalised after ingesting the dry beads, which then expanded when they travelled down to their intestines. So, keep your kiddo away from these tiny spheres.
Toddlers simply love brightly coloured inflatables but latex balloons are a huge choking hazard. Your little one may try hard to inflate them by putting it to their mouth, or hit it around when it’s pumped up. However, when latex balloons burst, they sometimes come apart into several small pieces. Because the material is smooth, the pieces can mould to your tot’s throat, blocking their airway completely. In such a situation, the Heimlich manoeuvre can actually make things worse as it’ll cause the latex pieces to cover the throat completely. So, make sure your child is supervised when they play with latex balloons, or replace them with the shiny foil variety, which is safer.
#3 Peanut butter
As yummy as peanut butter is, a spoonful of it can block a young child’s windpipe. The thick and sticky texture can easily mould to the shape of your child’s throat and stick to the sides, making it difficult for them to breathe. So, only offer your toddler peanut butter when it’s spread thinly on a slice of bread or crackers.
Loose buttons on your tyke’s clothes can be a major choking hazard, especially if junior enjoys fingering fascinating objects. Until they are old enough, you might want to opt for Velcro or elasticised garments. Also, make sure that the buttons on your own clothes are sewn securely. You wouldn’t want them swallowing a button that had come loose from your blouse while they were resting their head on your chest.
#5 Pet food
Got a pooch or a feline friend in your home? Chunky dog or cat food may make your peewee curious, especially since they see their furry friend munching on it. So, they may try to pop a couple into their mouth. Unfortunately, the dry chunks can get lodged in their throat. Make sure that bowls of pet food are kept out of reach of your tot ― or empty them when it isn’t your pet’s mealtime.
Toddlers everywhere adore sweet, juicy grapes, but they can be a serious choking hazard. There have been cases where kids aged 5 and under died because they choked while eating whole grapes. Grapes tend to be large enough to block a child’s airway, and the grape’s smooth, soft surface can form a tight seal, preventing the flow of air. Cherry tomatoes pose a similar risk. Before giving these to junior, cut the grape length-wise into halves, or even quarters, so that they won’t get stuck in your child’s airways.
These bright, shiny little objects hold quite a bit of appeal to grabby little hands. While most cases of swallowed coins aren’t serious ― they end up being passed out through the stools ― coins can get lodged in your child’s oesophagus, stomach, or intestines, causing a more serious problem. If this does happen, your child may experience vomiting, chest and neck pain, blood in the stool or abnormal bowel movements. If the coin is stuck in the intestines, it can even tear the intestine walls. While the coin can be removed by a catheter or an endoscopy, in serious cases, surgery may be required. So, keep your spare change out of junior’s reach, and make sure he doesn’t pick any off the ground when you’re out.
#8 Hard candy
Hard sweets may taste pretty incredible to your curious little tot, but they are one of the most common choking hazards among children. The candy is often round and large enough to fully block the airways, also, they tend to get sticky upon contact with junior’s saliva. While you should minimise giving candy to young children (tooth decay, anyone?), should you do so, you should supervise them strictly. Your child should never run, walk, play or lie down with candy in his mouth.
#9 Beanbag fillers
When little balls of styrofoam escape the beanbag casing, these become a dangerous choking hazard. Because these fillers are light, they may not only be ingested, but also inhaled by a young child as well. Keep your beanbags sealed (perhaps disable zips by removing the pull tab, or ensure that the zip handle is hidden in the inner lining), and never leave your child unattended around a beanbag. Make sure that there are no “leaks”, and vacuum up any loose beads or pellets.
Batteries ― especially those small button cell ones ― can easily block your child’s airways when swallowed. But there’s also a secondary concern: Batteries contain strong chemicals that can burn through the oesophagus and stomach walls, causing serious injuries, and even death. Make sure that batteries are secure in all your child’s toys and keep spare ones out of reach. Also make sure that your toddler can’t get their hands on batteries from common household devices like weighing scales, torch lights, remote controls and thermometers.