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Airway Obstruction - Identifying High-Risk Situations

Most incidences of accidental child strangulation, suffocation, and choking occur in the home. As a parent, extra care should be taken to childproof the house for young children, keeping in mind that the airways of young children are much smaller and easier to obstruct.


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children younger than 4 years old should not be fed any round, firm food unless they are cut into small, non-round pieces. Young children may not chew food properly before swallowing, increasing the risk of swallowing the food whole and choking. Food to avoid or cut into small pieces for children under age 4 include the following:

In addition, always supervise your young children when they are eating. Sometimes, choking can occur when an older child feeds his/her younger sibling unsafe food. Young children should also sit while eating, and never walk, play, or run with food in their mouths.

Special Note:
Hot dogs and grapes can be eaten by young children as long as the skins are taken off and the food is cut into small, non-round pieces.

Other choking hazards:

Nonfood items that are small, round, or conforming can be a choking hazard to young children. Examples include:

Strangulation and suffocation hazards:

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Online Resources of Safety & Injury Prevention

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