With my first child, I tried to do things perfectly. He didn’t have solids until the exact day our pediatrician suggested it. He never saw a TV on until he was 2. And our house was stripped free of anything he could possibly choke on until he was much older and unlikely to have a choking incident.
And then along came kid #2. I brought her home from the hospital, looked around the house, and thought to myself, “There is absolutely nothing safe for this baby in this house!” Our son was 3 at the time and well into easy-to-choke-on toys. He also ate foods that a baby couldn’t possibly swallow comfortably. We tried our best to put his super deadly toys up high. But short of getting rid of everything in the house that our son ate or played with, our youngest was not going to get the benefit of living in a perfectly safe house. This meant we had to keep our eyes on her all the time.
As our youngest became mobile, I started to discover that choking hazards weren’t just the usual things (like grapes and hot dogs) that I’d avoided with my first child. There was a whole host of things kid #2 was exposed to because she had an older sibling. Here are a few surprising things I literally had to pull out of my daughter’s mouth.
By the time my older child started playing with Legos, he was well past the age of putting everything in his mouth. But his younger sister lived in a Lego-filled house since birth. We tried to pick up every last Lego off the floor and keep them stored up high, but somehow she always found one and stuck it into her mouth. We had a lot of Lego near misses in our house and finally said our son could only play with Legos while the baby was napping.
Pretzel Goldfish Crackers
It wasn’t until I had to yank a pretzel Goldfish cracker out of my daughter’s throat that I realized that this kid favorite is the exact width of a toddler’s mouth. And the pretzel kind are harder than the usual Goldfish cracker, which makes them even easier to choke on. That was the first and last time I bought my kids pretzel Goldfish crackers.
Turn a tangerine slice sideways and you’ll see it’s about as wide as your tot’s throat. When I gave my daughter tangerine slices, I realized that what I thought of as a healthy snack was also difficult to chew and easy to choke on. Now I cut the slices of fruit in half, even for my older son.
My first child never had sugar until he was 2, but my second child had the sweet stuff way before then. But treats like peanut M&Ms, which are solid and wide, can get lodged in the throat of a toddler who doesn’t take the time to chew. Trust me, I had to dig one out of my tot’s mouth — and then educate her on why we chew.
I always thought lollipops were a safe treat because the stick prevented choking. But when my son was sucking on a lollipop in the car one day, the sucker came off the stick and he was left with a giant, hard, round ball in his mouth that could easily go down his throat. I pulled the car over immediately and took the ball out of his mouth. My kids don’t get lollipops now. They’re not so happy about that, but their dentist is thrilled. So am I.
I thought marshmallows were a super easy, soft treat that a kid could easily enjoy. But marshmallows are the same size as a kid’s throat and when left whole, can easily get lodged there.
My kids love fruit roll-ups, but they also love to ball them up and shove the whole thing in their mouths. That fruit roll ball becomes an instant choking hazard. So now I have a deal with my kids: If they ball up their fruit roll-ups they can’t have this treat any longer. They’re old enough now to follow the rules and so far they’re sticking to ’em.
So while your kids may want their fruit slices whole and their after-dinner treat to be a lollipop, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Trust me. Once you’ve seen your child’s face turn red and their breath grow short, you know there’s nothing that should stand in the way of her safety.
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