All articles

What are common choking hazards?

It's important to know what the most common choking hazards are, especially if you're starting out with finger foods. On top of listing the most common choking hazards we want to inform you on how to safely introduce finger foods and what to do when something should go wrong.

Stop light

The risk of choking is one of the most common concerns among parents. To minimize this risk, there are several precautions that can be taken. Let's start with the essential do's and don'ts when it comes to serving finger foods. These guidelines will help you determine which foods to offer and how to prepare them. It's important to note that gagging, which is different from choking, is a normal part of the learning process and does not require immediate intervention. To learn more about the distinction between gagging and choking, refer to our article. However, if your baby is choking, it is crucial to call emergency services right away.

With that said, by paying attention to the shape and texture of the food and observing your child's behaviour, we can greatly minimise the risk of choking.

Tips to Minimise the Risk of Choking:

  • Always supervise your child while they are eating. If something goes wrong, they may become silent, making it difficult to notice if you are not actively watching.
  • Make sure you can easily squeeze the food between your thumb and index finger.
  • Avoid serving round-shaped foods (such as grapes or cherry tomatoes) or cutting foods into round shapes (such as thick carrot slices). Opt for more rectangular shapes or smaller cubes instead.
  • Crushing round foods like blueberries, chickpeas, or pomegranate is a safe way to serve them.
  • If your child chews on a pea pod, crush the peas inside beforehand to prevent them from popping out.
  • Encourage your child to self-feed finger foods, allowing them to pick up the food, feel its texture and size, and put it into their mouths. Never force your child to eat anything, especially finger foods.
  • Ensure that your child is seated while eating. Avoid letting them walk, play, or crawl while consuming food, and minimise distractions. Additionally, when they are unwell, opt for less challenging textures.

Here are some common choking hazards to be aware of:

  • Popcorn
  • Sausages or hot dogs
  • Whole cherry tomatoes
  • Round fruits like grapes, cherries, or berries
  • Oranges with the membrane intact
  • Hard pieces of fruit or vegetables
  • Whole nuts or dried fruit
  • Bread with a thick layer of nut butter
  • Peas
  • Pomegranate
  • Shrimp
  • Hard candies or biscuits
  • Fish with bones
  • Cheese cubes or string cheese

Most of these foods can be cooked or cut in a way that makes them safer. Quartering round shapes lengthwise or crushing smaller round foods are effective methods. Cook hard foods until they become soft, and ensure that fish is properly deboned. Certain foods, such as popcorn and cheese cubes, can be avoided during the early years.

We hope that these guidelines provide you with the confidence to offer a wide variety of foods and textures to your child in a safe manner.