How to prevent a child from choking

Time Out Kids enlists the help of experts to teach you how to prevent a child from choking, as well as some basic first aid tips

How to prevent a child from choking

Putting things in their mouths is what babies and toddlers do to explore the world around them. It’s normal. Whether it’s food, toys or other small objects, anything that fits in their mouths could be dangerous. First aid expert Annie Browne shares her advice.

1 Encourage children to sit when eating and to chew thoroughly. Teach them to chew and swallow their food before talking or laughing. When weaning small babies, give them small amounts. Don’t fill their mouths completely with food – they will struggle to breathe through it.

2 Never let children run, play, or ride in the car with sweets, or lollipops in their mouths. I had a memorable incident with a seven year-old at school who choked on a ball-type lolly that came off the stick and completely blocked his airway.

3 Don’t give children younger than four years old any hard, smooth foods that can partially or completely block the windpipe, such as:
• Nuts of any type
• Sunflower seeds
• Watermelon with seeds
• Cherries with pits
• Raw carrots, peas, and celery
• Popcorn
• Hard candy, particularly lollies
• Raw apples and pears

4 Some soft foods can also cause choking and should be avoided:
• Cheese cubes
• Grapes – always cut into quarters and take the skin off
• Spoonfuls of peanut butter

5 Thoroughly check the floors, under rugs and anything within grabbing range of a toddler, i.e. on shelves, tables, down the side of chairs, sofas and under sheets. Check especially for coins, and small toy parts that could be a choking hazard.

6 Button cell batteries. Lithium manganese batteries – the little CR button cells that are found in toys, mobile phones and a lot of electronic gadgets. These not only cause choking, but saliva causes an electrical reaction and severely burns the throat.

7 Always buy age-appropriate toys and look for a safety mark on them.

8 Teach older children to look out for their younger brothers and sisters and make sure none of their toys are left where a toddler can get them. Lego can look very tasty.

9 Make sure you as parents and your maid/nanny take a first aid course and learn how to identify and help a child who is choking. Dealing with choking and CPR are part of any good first aid course.

10 Don’t leave your children with a maid or babysitter who does not know basic first aid and life-saving skills. We offer a four-hour course and have books for maids printed in Filipino, Sri Lankan, Arabic and English. The courses are usually taught in their own language, too.
Annie Browne provides advice and first aid training to parents across the UAE. For more information visit

Hospital Bag Essentials

Baby Clothes
Little Ones

Pack your bag with plenty of baby vests and sleepsuits in a variety of sizes. You never know how big or small baby will actually be. Also pack a swaddle blanket if you intend to breastfeed.
Swaddles can be found at

Those Essentials

Most hospitals can provide underwear for new mums, however it can feel nicer to have your own. Pack some maternity bras and other comfortable items too.
A range of maternity items can be found at

Feel At Ease

Make sure you pack some home comforts. Pictures, pillows, treats, favourite books and cushions can help make you feel relaxed. Also pack some headphones in case you fancy listening to some soothing music during the long days.

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