One of the top reasons parent's contact me for a First Aid course, is from fear of their baby choking! In fact many contact me when they are about to start weaning their babies, for that reason.
Of course I am going to plug taking a First Aid course (preferably with me!), but not because you should be fearful of choking (despite it being scary), but because it's always useful to have some First Aid skills anyway.
Toddlers and young children are often the most at risk, especially if they are walking around or running and putting food in their mouths. There is one simple rule to help prevent choking for this age group 'Sit down!'. Sitting down at the table and eating is probably one of the easiest ways to prevent choking incidents. It really is that simple!
As for babies, here are a few things to consider that might put your minds at rest! Firstly, gagging is not choking! Your baby's gag reflex is closer to the front of the tongue initially. So when they try new foods, they will gag. Which is fine, as this reflex is actually protecting them from choking. Through gagging they learn to deal with different foods and textures in their mouth and how to push them out if need be. This reflex moves further back as they gain more experience with food. So please don't leap into action with back blows when your baby gags or look fearful. They will be reluctant to try any foods if you do, as it will seem like a very scary prospect to them!
Some useful things you should know before you start weaning. At 6 months babies can only hold things in their hands not in their fingers. So 'finger food' is best. 'finger food' is food cut into strips that babies can hold easily.
Bananas: If you peal a banana from the bottom not the stalk, and push your finger down the middle, it will split into 3 perfect segments, not as sticky as cutting it which makes it easy for babies to hold.
Broccoli can be sliced length ways in half. Carrots should be par boiled to soften them and cut into batons.
At 7 months babies start to develop their pincer reflex, which makes it easier for them to hold smaller food, like peas. The main thing to remember, anything with a hard skin such as grapes or cherry tomatoes, should be cut into quarters and some hard fruit such as apples, can be stewed and shredded. Sausages and anything that is perfectly cylindrical should be cut into strips.
But it's not just food that babies put into their mouths. What about toys and other objects?
it is quite simple, your baby should not be given any toys that are not appropriate for their age. Their toys should never be smaller than the middle of a toilet roll, you can't choke on a piece of lego is it's bigger than your mouth! Baby toys should not have any bits that come off, so always check eyes that are plastic on cuddly toys.
The best tip I can give you to baby proof your property is to get down to a babies eye view. get down on the floor and look at things from their perspective. You might just find that stray 10p that rolled under your rug or even worse the battery (highly toxic!) that popped out of the remote, when you were changing it.
Your babies explore the world, by tasting it and touching it. So start looking at it from their perspective of no teeth, a few teeth and exploring it from the floor. Then you will be able to do what you can to protect them sensibly.