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Choking risks in child safety

22 March 2019

According to the HSE report onChildhood injury in Ireland and the risk factors‘, Choking or Suffocation is in the top 6 most common causes of death in children in Ireland. In 2017 there was 53 injuries related childhood fatalities and over 15000 children were hospitalised. We at My Elearn Safety would like to educate parents and childcare providers so that we all may help to decrease the number of deaths and injuries to children.

According to an article in The Journal, on average an ambulance is called 17 timer per week for choking incidents. This figure caused a calling for childcare staff to be trained in dealing with choking hazards. Childcare staff now must have appropriate training to deal with a life-threatening incidents such as choking.

Source – 

Top most commonly choked on items in children

Food Items:

  • Hard Candy
  • Meat
  • Bone’s (meat, fish and chicken)
  • Slimy fruit and vegetables
  • Seeds, nuts and shells
  • Popcorn, pretzels, crisps or similar snack food
  • Biscuits & Crackers – anything that is very dry
  • Hard raw vegetables

Although food is the most common cause of choking in young children. Please stay cautious to other smaller objects that your children may come into contact with or play with. Toys that are made for older children that may have smaller removable parts should be kept out of reach for small children.

Non – Food Items:

  • Coins
  • Undersized soothers
  • Marbles
  • Small toys
  • Keys
  • Batteries and button batteries
  •  Ballons – both inflated or deflated. If a child bites an inflated ballon it pops and can enter the lungs.
  • Jewellery
  • Elastic bands or hair bobbins
  • Crayons
  • Wet wipes

Avoiding choking in children

  • Supervision – This is key! Supervision is the single most important thing a parent, guardian or childcare provider can do to reduce the risk of a choking child.
  • Sitting up while eating –  Sit your child upright and don’t allow them to eat while slumped or lying down.
  • Discourage movement – Small movements while sitting upright doesn’t cause issues, however discourage large movements and also don’t allow your child to eat while they are walking or running.
  • No talking – discourage your child to talk whilst they are chewing and only speak when the food has cleared their throat.
  • Bite sized pieces – Before the age of 4, children are not able to properly grind their food whilst in the mouth. Knowing this, don’t give your children large pieces of food to eat. Cut into smaller bite sized pieces and encourage them to chew before swallowing. However if they do not chew before swallowing the smaller pieces shouldn’t lodge in their throat, or has a much smaller risk of lodging.

If your child is choking

If you are a parent, guardian or childcare provider, or even if there are small children in your family. Knowing how to respond effectively can save the child’s life. If you notice a child choking and they are still conscious, alert someone to call the ambulance and start acting straight away. If the child is not conscious, ring the ambulance straight away and see if you you can see the lodged item and remove it with your fingers.


If you would like to learn more about what you can do to educate yourself, take a look at our Paediatric First Aid Course overview here , if you have any further questions regarding our course, we would be happy to speak to you, email or call +353 1 693 1421.