Avoid choking hazards

Choking is the fourth leading cause of death in young children. Despite a strong gag reflex, a young child’s airway is vulnerable to obstruction and the force of air generated by a cough in an infant or young child is less effective in dislodging an object. Choking hazards are primarily associated with food, coins, and toys. Choking can be prevented.

Keep the following foods away from babies and young children:

• grapes

• hot dogs

• raw carrots

• peanuts

• sticky foods

Cook foods until they are soft. Cut food for young children into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch for infants and 1/2 inch for toddlers. Encourage children to chew food well. Staff must actively supervise children while eating and insist that children sit down while eating. Children should never run, walk, play, or lie down with food in their mouths.

Toys are designed to be used by children within a certain age range. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) sets age guidelines that take into account the safety of a toy based on any possible choking hazard. Always supervise children during play and don’t let young children play with toys designed for older children. Toys and games with small parts and small manipulatives should not be available to children on low shelving or open bins unless all children present are at least age 3. Some children who are 3 years of age and older may still put items into their mouths so close supervision is needed.

Healthy Child Care Iowa has a new Choking Prevention and Food fact sheet available at https://www.idph.iowa.gov/hcci/products

For additional choking information go to Caring For Our Children standard Inaccessibility of Toys or Objects to Children Under Three Years of Age https://nrckids.org/CFOC/Database/

This information is being presented by Heidi Hotvedt, RN BSN; Child Care Nurse Consultant Healthy Child Care Iowa Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Public Health.


Carrie Kube is a Director for the Iowa River Valley

Early Childhood Area Board.


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