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Suffocation, choking and strangulation are leading causes of injury to children and youth. Children who survive these injuries are at risk for brain damage due to an extended period of time where their brain was not supplied with oxygen. The effects of such a traumatic brain injury are life-long and devastating.
Children’s breathing can be threatened in a number of ways such as choking on food, suffocation in cribs or beds, or strangulation on ropes and cords. Almost half of all child hospitalizations in Canada for choking, suffocation and strangulation are from choking on food.
Children under three years of age and children who still have a tendency to put non-food items in their mouths are at an increased risk of choking on foods and other small objects.
Mash, grate, or chop into small pieces foods such as bananas, cucumbers, cheese, carrots, and round or ‘plug-shaped’ food such as grapes and hot dogs. To make hard foods, such as carrots and broccoli, softer you can steam or boil them.
Keep hard foods such as candy, gum, popcorn with kernels, and nuts away from small children.
Items such as small toys, keys, and coins can become stuck in a child’s airway and cause choking. To check if a toy is too small for a young child, see if it will fit in the middle of a toilet paper roll.
Any item that fits inside a toilet paper roll is a choking hazard for young children.
Blind and curtain cords can strangle a child if he becomes tangled in the cord. Tie curtain and blind cords out of reach of children by using a safety device, clothes pin, hook, or nail. Cut the bottom loop out of curtain and blind cords.
Keep cribs, beds, tables, couches, and chairs away from windows with curtain and blind cords.
Always place your baby on her back to sleep in a crib. Once your baby has developed the ability to roll over by herself you do not need to reposition her if she rolls, but should continue to place her on her back to sleep.
Keep objects such as stuffed animals, quilts, pillows, and bumper pads out of your baby’s crib. These objects can suffocate your child if they cover his face or mouth.
Keep plastic bags, plastic wrap, and latex balloons out of reach of your child.