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Why Is the Risk of Choking So High for Children?

March 21, 2019

Why Is the Risk of Choking So High for Children?

One of the most common questions we hear from parents is why are children at such a high risk when it comes to choking. It’s one of the leading causes of fatalities among kids, and caregivers want to better understand that risk so they can know how to prevent it.

Understanding the Risk

Indeed, kids do face a much higher chance of choking than a typical adult. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child will die about every five days from choking in the United States alone. There are a few reasons kids are at a higher risk.

First, children don’t have the cognitive risk-preventing processes of adults. What does that mean in layman’s terms? It means kids will put anything in their mouths. Most parents know this simple fact all too well. Children under the age of 5 just haven’t developed the thought processes we take for granted as we age, such as knowing when a bite of food is too big or knowing not to eat while running around. This is why it’s not uncommon to hear of a baby or toddler choking on a household object like a coin, a deflated balloon or a toy, which older children and adults would never think to put in their mouths.

Second, kids are simply at a higher risk because their airways are smaller. A young child can easily choke on a bite of food that an adult would never think twice about. We’ve talked to many parents who have been surprised to learn how small certain foods should be prepared. For instance, many doctors recommend grapes be cut in halves or even quarters for kids.

As kids get older, their thought processes improve and they become more aware of what they should put in their mouths. Children also get better at simple anatomical processes like swallowing and fully chewing their food. Nevertheless, risks remain as their bodies continue to grow.

What You Can Do About It

Now that you know more about the risk, what steps can you take as a parent toward choking prevention? We’ve got a few suggestions that we believe every caregiver should know:

  • Child-proof the house.  Before your little ones start toddling around and picking up every small item, it’s time to get into the good habit of tidying up. Check out this blog post on unexpected household hazards, and remember not to leave little things like pocket change and small batteries lying around. Get the whole family involved by educating older children about why they need to pick up their toys to keep their siblings safe from harm.
  • Prepare foods properly and encourage good eating habits.  Children are more likely to choke on food than other objects, so it’s important for parents and other caregivers such as babysitters to pay close attention when preparing food. Read this blog post on foods that cause the most choking risk, such as hot dogs, candy, grapes and nuts. Also, encourage good habits like chewing your food fully, having a drink nearby while eating, and not eating while running around or while lying down.
  • Learn about first-aid methods and devices such as the Dechoker.  Lastly, it’s important to understand that prevention can only go so far, so you should prepare yourself for a choking emergency. You can learn more here about what to do if a child is choking and how the Dechoker can help. It’s an easy-to-use device that uses suction to remove objects from the airway, and we believe it’s an essential component of every good first-aid kit.

Just in reading this, you’re taking strong, proactive steps to reduce your child’s risk of choking. Take the next step here to learn more about the Dechoker and how it can improve the safety of your family.


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