Babies and toddlers can choke on food quite easily. This is mainly because they have small air and food passages and are still learning to move food around in their mouths and how to bite, chew and grind food.
To reduce your baby's risk of choking:
- Always make sure babies and toddlers are sitting when they eat and that an adult is with them while they are eating and drinking.
- Offer food that matches their chewing and grinding ability.
Be aware of (or avoid) foods that are more likely to cause choking – here's a list of examples of foods to best avoid:
- Small hard foods that are difficult for children to bite or chew (eg, nuts, large seeds, unpopped popcorn, raw pieces of apple, carrot or celery).
- Small round foods that can get stuck in children’s throats (eg, grapes, berries, raisins/sultanas, peas, watermelon seeds, lollies).
- Foods with skins or leaves that are difficult to chew (eg, sausages, chicken with skin on, unchopped lettuce, nectarines).
- Compressible food (or food that can squash into the shape of the child’s throat and get stuck there). This includes hot dogs, sausages, pieces of cooked meat, and popcorn.
- Thick pastes that can get stuck in children’s throats (eg, chocolate spreads, peanut butter).
- Fibrous or stringy foods that are difficult for children to chew (eg, celery, raw pineapple).
To reduce the risk of choking on these foods, you can:
- Change the food texture – grate, cook, finely chop or mash the food.
- Remove the harmful or risky parts of the food. Peel the skin or remove the strong fibres.
- Avoid giving small hard foods such as whole nuts or large seeds (such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds) until children are at least 5 years old.