Recognizing and Preventing Choking

We caught up with our friends at Baby Bodyguards about a very important topic for every parent to know about: how to recognize and prevent choking. Read on for a lot of great information, and join us for an Infant/Child CPR & Safety Class with Baby Bodyguards to make sure you’re prepared.

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Recognizing and Preventing Choking
by Courtney Ilarraza, Founder of Baby Bodyguards

We started Baby Bodyguards over 11 years ago after two acquaintances had children who experienced severe injury and death. These tragedies could easily have been prevented by taking some precautions. We set out on a safety crusade educating parents on proper safety measures and helping them install necessary safety devices in their homes.

One of our acquaintances was watching her grandchildren in her home. The kids ages 5 and 2 were bouncing around on the living room couch watching cartoons. There was a bowl of fruit on the coffee table. While she was on a phone call in the kitchen, her 2-year-old grandson choked on a grape and passed away. I always tell this chilling story during our Infant and Child CPR and Safety Class because I want to get the point across that a choke that would require Heimlich Maneuver is always silent. Young children should always be supervised while they are eating. Grandma didn’t realize anything was wrong from the other room because no sound was made. Grapes are also one of the top foods on our Dangerous Food List (see below). They are okay to be eaten but should be cut in quarters. If a child is coughing and making sounds, this is a mild choke, and we just stand by, to see if it turns into a silent choke requiring the Heimlich Maneuver.

Dangerous Food List

Do not feed children younger than 4 years round, firm food unless it is cut up completely. Dangerous foods include:

  • Hot dogs

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Chunks of meat and cheese

  • Whole grapes

  • Hard, sticky or gooey candy

  • Popcorn

  • Chunks of peanut butter

  • Raw vegetables

  • Fruit chunks

  • Chewing gum

Dangerous Household Items

Keep the following household items away from infants and children:

  • Balloons

  • Coins

  • Marbles

  • Toys with Small Parts

  • Toys that can be squeezed to fit into a child’s mouth

  • Small balls

  • Pen or marker caps

  • Small button type batteries

  • Medicine Syringes

  • Magnets (such as those attached to the back of some toys for fridge)

What You Can Do to Prevent Choking

  • Learn CPR and Heimlich Maneuver.

  • Hang bags and coats high on a hook system by the door or in a coat closet.

  • Insist that kids eat at a table or highchair. They should never walk, run, play or lie down with food in their mouth.

  • Cut foods for infants and young children, no larger than one-half inch, and teach them to chew their food well.

  • Supervise mealtime for infants and young children.

  • Be aware of older children’s actions. Many choking incidents happen when older siblings give their little brother or sister dangerous foods, toys or small objects.

  • Avoid toys with small parts and keep other small household items out of reach of infants and young children.

  • Follow age recommendations on toy packages.

  • Check under furniture and between cushions for small items that a child could put in their mouth.

  • Do not let infants and young children play with coins.

  • Be aware that balloons pose a choking risk to children up to 8.


Baby Bodyguards is a Mom Key partner, offering members 10% off their expert baby-proofing services (save up to $65). Mom MeetUps also runs a quarterly Infant/Child CPR & Safety class with Courtney at Kids at Work for local parents, nannies and babysitters.