Monday, October 25, 2010

Choking Hazards

I know a lot of my readers, like me, have young kids. Unlike me, you're probably completely aware of all the recommendations for choking hazard foods to avoid. But just in case you're not, I thought it was worth posting a few links:
"Labels Urged for Foods that Can Choke" (NY Times)
"Choking and Choking Hazards" (

I hate to say it, but my first reaction to the list of foods in the article was to feel overwhelmed. Item #5 is "hard foods" and item #6 is "soft foods." What else is left?!? Do I need to feed her smoothies and baby food morning, noon, and night until she turns 5 and then she'll be magically able to chew and swallow?

Anyway, it came up because we had been feeding Eleanor microwave popcorn and apparently it's a terrible, terrible thing. The NY Times story is about a father who knew the Heimlich, etc., and still couldn't save his young daughter from choking on popcorn. It was so heartbreaking.

Do you follow all of the rules? I know we used to be really good about cutting up grapes, but have gotten much more lax after months of no problems. Am I just being naive, assuming that this won't happen to us? But I also don't want to become a safety-crazed Mom who won't let her child go anywhere without a safety helmet and water wings.

Where's the line?


revjeremy said...

Pretty sure Life Savers used to be a major choking hazard because their signature hole in the middle thwarts the Heimlich. They were banned from every camp I went to in the 90's. Pretty sure thats why they started making the now discontinued "Life Savers Holes".

I've never heard anything bad about popcorn until right now, but after reading the article it seems like keeping volume of the popcorn in the child's bowl lower would reduce the risk (of inhaling)...but the risk still exists. Wow that was a really long sentence.

My opinion: I try to do things that are high value-low effort (in your case: covering electrical outlets and putting the knives away), then step the effort up based on the severity of risk. And accept that I can't control the world and bad things are going to happen.

My opinion #2: Just because something hasn't happened yet does not reduce the likelihood of it happening in the future. "I've been texting and driving for years", "I always double down on a 12 when the dealer is showing a 6". Every spin of the wheel has nothing to do with how many times prior the wheel has been spun or where it landed in the past. Every now and again a random chain of events makes safe things unsafe and unsafe things safe...I got attacked by a gorilla at the zoo on Labor Day (glad they didn't skimp on that safety glass).

In conclusion: being aware of risks inherently reduces them however they can't be eliminated but crazy is only one safety helmet at the grocery store away.

I just realized that I am eating a Life Savers mint right now, this article may have saved my life.

revjeremy said...


M. Lubbers said...

A long but meaningful post. Well worth the read! And I like the conclusion:) Hopefully I see a kid in a helmet at the grocery store soon, and I'll think of you!