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One thing is for certain: if you are having a child, your home environment must undergo changes.

Providing a safe and loving environment for your child means familiarizing yourself with everything in your home that poses a potential risk.

Choosing Appropriate Foods for Meals and Snacks

Each year, thousands of young children are rushed to the emergency room due to choking hazards related to the food on their plates. Until your child has reached an age where he or she is capable of chewing food on their own, it is important to provide close supervision while they eat. As a general rule, parents with children younger than 4 years old should avoid the following foods:

  • Chewing gum
  • Small, hard candies 
  • Whole grapes and raisins
  • Popcorn, chips, pretzels and other small snack foods 
  • Vegetables in their raw form (try steamed vegetables instead) 
  • Large bites of meat or cheese
  • Large amounts of peanut butter

Providing Supervision at Mealtime

Creating a safe and healthy meal for your child can be accomplished with both careful supervision and selective shopping. Until your children reach an age when they can eat independently, it is important to follow these safety guidelines:

  • Never leave children unattended
  • Teach children proper posture at the table 
  • Cut children's food into manageable bites until their molars develop
  • Discourage children from talking while they are eating
  • Teach children that food stays at the table

Keeping Small Objects Away from Children's Mouths

Choking emergencies rank highly among the greatest risks to your child's health and safety. Children are notorious for their attempts to consume everything from big pieces of food to small toys and household objects. These objects can become stuck and make breathing difficult or even impossible. In order to reduce your child's risk for choking hazards, familiarize yourself with potentially unsafe objects around your home. These include:

  • Coins 
  • Marbles 
  • Pen Caps 
  • Buttons 
  • Batteries 
  • Nails and screws 
  • Pins and needles 
  • Latex Balloons

Dealing with a Choking Emergency

Even with proper prevention methods, choking emergencies can still occur in your home. If your child is having difficulty breathing or unable to make a sound, immediately call 911 and administer the Heimlich maneuver. The American Heart Association outlines safe practices for the Heimlich maneuver so that it can be administered to children of all ages. 

Margo Anderson-Fowler, MD

Dr. Anderson-Fowler enjoys caring for patients of all ages. She has a special interest in the Mind/Body/Spirit connection for health. She tries to understand her patients' family dynamics and how this may affect their health. She feels a physician should be totally engaged with the patient and see him or her as an individual. She believes every person just wants to be heard so she listens carefully to her patients' concerns and tries to offer them the best care possible so they can reach thei ...

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