Choking & Strangulation

Choking: Small Objects That Pose a Big Danger

Children will put almost anything in their mouths—even things that they shouldn’t. Brain damage and even death can occur within 4 minutes of choking or strangulation, so it’s important to know all the hidden dangers in your home.


Open All Close All

    • Be sure to cut your toddler's food into small pieces.
    • Avoid small, round or hard foods that can get lodged in young children’s throats, like hot dogs, cheese sticks, nuts or grapes, until they are 4 years old.
    • Always supervise mealtimes and snacktimes. 
    • Have young kids eat in a highchair or at the table whenever possible. Explain that they should never run, walk, play or lie down when they have food in their mouths.
    • Prevent kids from eating in the car, as they are at greater risk for choking, and they may be hard to get to in the case of an emergency.

    • Make sure that your children are playing with toys that are appropriate for their age, as specified by the manufacturer. For more on toy safety, go here
    • Keep small magnets away from children. Check their play areas on a regular basis to ensure that toys with magnets are not missing or loose. If you think your child has swallowed a magnet, get medical attention immediately. 
    • Never allow children under 8 to play with balloons, as both latex and Mylar® balloons can block their airway if they put them in their mouths.

    • Get on your hands and knees and look around your home. Find and remove any small items that can pose a choking risk, like buttons, beads, jewelry, pins, marbles, coins, pens or marker caps. 
    • Be sure to put away things with button batteries, as young children could choke on them or swallow them. Find out more about button batteries here
    • Be aware of older children or guests who may give younger children foods, toys, or other small objects that they could choke on.

    • Learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Find a class in your area here.
    • Call 911 if your child's airway is obstructed.

Did You Know?

More than 50% of non-fatal choking incidents are food-related.

- Safe Kids Worldwide