Food-Related Choking Incidents Continue to Climb – Tips to Keep Your Little Ones Safe

Numbers of food-related choking incidents in children continue to climb, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Choking is a leading cause of injury among children, and can sometimes be fatal, especially in children 4 years of age or younger.

In a recent study published by the AAP, researchers investigated nonfatal pediatric food choking-related emergency department visits from 2001 to 2009, using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program. The authors found that an average of 12,400 children ages 0 to 14 years of age were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal food-related choking annually, with hard candy being the most common culprit.

To that end, parents should be careful of certain foods, especially due to size and shape, that are more likely to be choking hazards. Children younger than 4 should not be fed round, firm food unless they are cut into small, non-round pieces. See examples below of foods that can pose a choking hazard:

• nuts
• meat chunks
• grapes
• hard candy
• popcorn
• chunks of peanut butter
• raisins
• raw carrots
• hot dogs

Remember to always supervise young children when they are eating. Children should also sit while eating and never walk, play or run with food in their mouths. Other non-food, round or conforming choking hazards include:

• coins
• small balls
• balloons (inflated and deflated)
• marbles
• small toy parts
• safety pins
• jewelry
• buttons
• pen caps
• small button-like batteries (like for a watch)

For more information on choking or airway obstruction, please visit the CHOC health library at:

To learn about the Red Cross “five and five” approach to delivering first aid when choking is occurring, please click here:

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