A choking child is any parent’s nightmare

Babies and toddlers love exploring – with their hands and their mouths.

Call it taste-testing…

Baby notices object, baby grabs object, baby fumbles with object, baby pops object into mouth.

Cue frantic panic from mom… for good reason.

Children under the age of five have an airway the size of their pinky finger. Just a quick glance at the size of your own pinky finger should tell you that that is tiny.

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It doesn’t take much for something to get stuck

While the gag reflex often protects our little ones from choking – there are some objects, textures and foods that are just too difficult for them to handle.

Like all things safety related, when it comes to choking, prevention is key – and knowing which foods and objects most often cause choking can reduce the risk.

Here are nine foods and objects to label as choking hazards:

1. Grapes

Grapes make a sweet snack, but can get lodged in your child’s windpipe if served whole.

To be on the safe side, rather cut them in halves or quarters before offering them to your little one.

2. Balloons

We hate to be the party pooper, but did you know that a piece of burst balloon can completely seal your child’s airway?

They’re fun to play with, but if they pop (which they almost always do!), they are so easy to swallow.

Never leave your little one unattended in the presence of a balloon. Better yet, rather keep balloons out of reach completely!

3. Plastic bottle caps

Babies love playing with water bottles; they love the sound it makes when they squish one, and enjoy waving it around like a rattle.

It seems like a harmless object to give to your little one – and works wonders to occupy them while you’re doing your grocery shopping.

Except that they are not. Harmless, that is…

Older babies and toddlers are quite capable of removing the small, plastic cap (found on pump-type bottles) and can usually unscrew a normal cap with ease.

Both are choking hazards and not worth the risk!

Toys and objects that can fit through an empty toilet paper roll are not safe to give to babies and toddlers.

4. Batteries

Babies and toddlers love chucking their toys (and household items, like TV remotes) onto the floor as hard as they can. Whatever they chuck usually smashes into pieces, sending parts and batteries flying.

Besides being a choking hazard, lithium (button) batteries can do serious and severe damage in as little as two hours if ingested.

A handy tip: If the back of battery-operated household objects can’t be screwed in, then tape them closed with sellotape.

5. Peanut butter

Peanut butter doesn’t just stick to your palate…

A dollop of peanut butter can create a seal around your child’s airway, so be sure to spread it thinly on sarmies!

6. Pet food

Catching your little one snacking on dog pellets might seem funny at first…

But the hard, round pellets are a serious choking hazard. So, be sure to keep the pet food out of reach, and pick up any food bowls when not in use by your furry friends.

7. Popcorn

What makes popcorn such a hazard, is the fact that kids usually eat it by the handful rather that one piece at a time – making it easy for a piece to get stuck.

Save the salty snack for when they are a bit older.

8. Small toys

You know the age recommendation on most toy boxes? It’s there for a reason. Toys that are small enough to fit through an empty toilet paper roll, are small enough to get stuck in your toddler’s windpipe.

Do a sweep of the area in which your baby or toddler is to play in, and pick up and remove any small objects. Don’t forget to check under couches and beds!

Go one step further and encourage older siblings to pack away their toys with small parts, once they have finished playing.

9. Marshmallows

Another kid favourite that is actually hazardous is marshmallow.

It is the texture that makes this sweet treat dangerous, and the fact that little ones often bite off more than they can chew (literally).

Like popcorn, it’s best to save marshmallows for when they are a bit older.