Mom Shares Warning After Toddler Aspirates On Popcorn

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Nicole Johnson Goddard

Her toddler son aspirated popcorn and needed surgery — and now, she’s warning other parents by sharing his story

Parenting can be pretty terrifying. There’s no shortage of scary things that can happen and hazards that we need to watch for, and the whole thing is slightly easier when we help each other and share those near-miss stories. That’s why one mom took to Facebook to warn other parents about what happened when she gave her toddler popcorn — and why other parents should think twice before doing the same.

Nicole Johnson Goddard was enjoying a typical movie night with her family, including her toddler son Nash. She fed him popcorn, as she often does, but it became apparent later on that something wasn’t quite right.

Goddard says she “didn’t think twice” about giving Nash popcorn. She says he had a “small choking episode” but seemed fine afterward — until he started in with a cough.

“The next day he was fine but still had a weird sounding cough which concerned me a little. I just assumed he was catching the same crud we had all been going through,” she recalls. Then, her husband left for a work trip and later that night, Nash felt warm and was acting fussy. “He had a fever, so I gave him Motrin and put him to bed. A very long night with him and then his breathing looked a little labored to me and he just didn’t feel good,” she writes.

Image via Nicole Johnson Goddard

That’s when Goddard decided to take her son to the pediatrician where it was quickly discovered that the little boy had more than a cold.

“After a chest X-ray the dr didn’t like what he saw so he got scheduled that evening for a Bronchoscopy,” she explains. Her husband came home from his trip and Nash went in for the procedure. What doctors discovered was chilling.

“He had aspirated popcorn into his lungs when he choked. The body recognized it as a foreign object and put puss pockets around it. All the inflammation caused him to develop pneumonia in his left lung,” she says.

Image via Nicole Johnson Goddard

The doctor had to remove six pieces of popcorn from the toddler’s lungs during surgery, but as there was a lot of inflammation he wasn’t confident they got it all. The decision was made to admit Nash and repeat the procedure two days later. Goddard calls the hospital stay “a rollercoaster” but says her son received wonderful care and the second procedure was successful.

Image via Nicole Johnson Goddard

“Nash was a rockstar and recovered well. He had to go one hour on room air oxygen with out his o2 dropping under 90. He passed and we were discharged that evening,” she shares.

Goddard acknowledges that Nash’s happy outcome is all due to her trusting her gut. In the end, the family’s just grateful he’s ok. “We’re so thankful our little man came out ok. All of this over popcorn which is eaten on a regular basis in our home.”

Image via Nicole Johnson Goddard

She admits she got “a lecture” about not giving popcorn to kids under age five. “I hate to use the excuse he’s our third child so I overlook and don’t pay as close attention to the do’s and don’ts as we did with our first,” she writes.

Well. I only have two kids and I’ve let them eat popcorn since probably age two. She’s far from alone in initially not understanding the risks. But that’s exactly why she’s bravely sharing the story, even if some people judge her — to make sure this doesn’t happen to another child.

“I wrote it as an eye opener for people to see how something that you think is fine can quickly turn into something bad! Always trust your gut because it’s right,” she says.

Happily, Goddard tells Scary Mommy that Nash is recovering nicely. “He’s doing great!” she says. “I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback mostly parents unaware of the dangers of popcorn to young kids. I myself was unaware of it until we went through what we did.”

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