Dad shares experience with choking child and reminds parents to pay attention to the foods they feed their young kids
When my child was two years old, she choked on a piece of cheese. It was one of those small Babybell rounds that I had cut up into tiny pieces. She managed to shove enough of those pieces into her mouth and they obviously bound together to form a larger piece. That piece somehow went down the wrong way and she started to choke.
I was terrified. I was also very grateful that I had been through a toddler CPR class, and very, very grateful that I had a pediatrician who showed me when my kids were very young, just how hard you needed to pound on their backs if you suspected they were choking. I did a few back blows, and the cheese dislodged.
I still get the chills thinking about what would have happened had I not been taught how to handle a choking child, or had I panicked. When a child chokes, you have precious few seconds to deal with it, and if you don’t know where to begin, tragedy could result. This is not to fear-monger — it’s just a reality. One child dies every five days from choking in this country. Our ability to do whatever we can to help them or to prevent it from happening in the first place could really make all the difference.
A father’s experience with his baby choking is going viral this week, and it’s a good reminder just how important it is for parents and caregivers to pay attention to what they’re feeding their small children. He had some little crunchies snacks that had gone stale and were no longer easy for a small child to eat. His child ended up choking on one.
“After scanning the can my mom found this ‘warning’ in tiny letters on their side to throw contents out after 5 days of breaking the seal. I opened a new container and I could not believe the difference,” he explains. “The ones in the can she choked on I can only describe to be like a foam ear plug. I could squish it but it would expand back out and would not break apart. The ones in the new can crumbled with ease.”
Many parents feed things like little crunchies and yogurt melts as first finger foods, because they are small and they disintegrate quickly — if they’re fresh. There is a warning on the back of the box of Gerber treats to use them within five days. If the treats are not stored correctly or if they are not consumed with in that five day freshness window, they become hard, chewy, and not as safe as when they are fresh. There are also indicators on the packaging of these foods regarding what stage your child should be before attempting to feed them these snacks. The Gerber lil’ Crunchies are for “crawlers” and kids who are already attempting to grasp things with their fingers.
The post is going viral — it’s been shared over 17,000 times in a week — so it’s important to note the action of sticking your finger into a child’s mouth or throat is not recommended as it can cause the obstruction to move further down the throat or cause swelling. Morrice was lucky — he was able to dislodge the food from his child’s throat. But the quickness with which his child began to choke is a good reminder that we should all know what to do in the event that our child ever begins to choke.
The American Red Cross offers online and in-person training, all you have to do is use this link to find a class near you. Babycenter offers a step-by-step guide for how to handle choking that has been reviewed by The American Red Cross. These classes and guides can be stressful — no parent wants to think about having to handle a choking child. But it is so necessary to review these things before anything happens so you can be prepared.
Knowing that you could help yours or someone else’s child in the event of an emergency is priceless. And Morrice’s point about paying attention to the snacks we give our kids is a good one, too: “So again this is just a warning to all parents…read the labels!”
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