the top 10 choking hazards for kids

I usually scoff at fearmongering parenting articles, but this article on dangerous foods for kids in this week’s New York Times is a must-read. If you’re half-assed about cutting the grapes or the hot dogs up before feeding them to your preschooler, you should read it. If you think you can feed them whatever as long as you’re “right there,” and then they’ll be safe, then you should read it. 


You may be surprised, as I was, to read that popcorn is considered by many pediatricians and other experts to be the absolute worst of the no-nos. (We have a big bag in our pantry right now.) That’s why these experts are pushing for the FDA to start labeling foods that are choking hazards as such. Think that’s overkill? I might have also, but Dr. Gary Smith, the lead author of the pediatricians’ policy statement, makes quite a point: 

“You have a SuperBall that by government regulation has to carry warnings telling people it’s a risk to young children and you can’t market it to them, yet you can have the same identical shape and size gumball and there are no restrictions or requirements.” 

You gotta admit, that’s idiotic, since the gumball is DESIGNED for your kid to put it in his mouth. I mean, that’s its reason for existence. And if the popcorn had a “choking hazard” label on it, I probably wouldn’t have it in my house. Or at least save it for when my youngest was already gone to bed.


Read the article- but here are the top ten foods considered most dangerous to children UNDER FIVE (not just babies):

  • hot dogs
  • peanuts
  • raw carrots
  • chicken with bones
  • hard candy
  • meat
  • popcorn
  • fish with bones
  • sunflower seeds
  • apples

I have routinely offered my two-year-old many of those things. Some of them, I never even considered hazardous. 


Dr. Smith says these things shouldn’t be given to kids under five at all:

  • raw carrots
  • marshmallows
  • peanuts
  • popcorn
  • hard candy
  • gumballs
And those quarter-size slices you make in your toddler’s hot dog? That’s MORE dangerous than doing nothing. Slice them down the middle lengthwise first. Cut grapes in quarters, not just halves. Give your kids flat lollipops instead of ball-shaped ones.

And if someone does choke, do the Heimlich, and call 911 immediately. 

May it never happen to our kids.