Safety – preventing choking - Better Lives Healthy Futures

Safety – preventing choking

Age group:
Babies and toddlers are most at risk of choking because they examine things around them by putting them in their mouth

Choking happens quickly and is a leading cause of death for children under three years old. You can reduce the risk of choking by following these top tips.

Tips to reduce the risk of choking

Keep small objects out of reach – such as marbles, beads, small toys, coins, pins, screws, beads, small balls (less than 4.45cm in diameter),deflated balloons or pieces of burst balloons – these could be swallowed, inhaled or choked on.

Keep button batteries out of reach – these are a particular hazard – if eaten, button batteries can burn your child inside.

Choose toys from a well-known manufacturer – and check the box – toys which could be a choking hazard because of small parts will be marked with a warning symbol.

Check toys regularly for loose or damaged parts that could cause injury. If a toy is damaged, remove and dispose of it. Keep toys intended for older children away from younger ones. Second-hand toys should always be checked for safety.

Sit children down and supervise them when eating, as many foods could cause choking. Don’t allow them to lie down, walk or run with food. Children are more likely to choke if they slip or trip while eating.

Always cut up food – babies and young children can choke on small, sticky or slippery foods. Cut foods like tomatoes, grapes, blackberries and other small fruits into quarters. Cook carrots and make sure sausages are cut into very small pieces.

Under 4s should avoid peanuts, whole grapes, boiled sweets, hot dogs, chocolate eggs with small toys inside. Don’t give whole nuts to children under the age of six.

Familiarise yourself with what to do in case your baby or child chokes – see the further information section for emergency procedures.

If your child has choked and become unresponsive / is not breathing normally call 999 emergency and perform child CPR straight away – see the further information section to learn how to do this.

Search ‘safety’ or see the hot topics and further information sections below for more information on keeping your child safe.

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Further information

Preventing choking accidents

Helpful detailed information from the Child Accident Prevention Trust.

What to do if your baby (under one year) chokes

The St John Ambulance website with video provides detailed information on how to tell if your baby (under one year old) is choking and what to do.

What to do if your child chokes

The St John Ambulance website provides detailed information on what to do if your child (over one year old) is choking.

Emergency child CPR

Watch the St John Ambulance video to learn what to do if your child becomes unresponsive or is not breathing normally. Always call 999 for emergency help.