Be careful what you put in your mouth

Safety Checklist - Really important, maybe even lifesaving, information

  • Get on your hands and knees and become your child - if you can get your hands on something so can they!
  • There are many items that can be dangerous but the smaller ones are especially dangerous to children.
  • You might be able to put it in your mouth and swallow it without choking where it will block a child's little throat.
  • Make sure you point out to the child you are reading the story to, that they should only put things in their mouth that are given to them by an adult they can trust.
  • We cannot put in to words how dangerous lithium cell (Little Button) batteries really are - please make your child(ren) aware and then ensure you check the house for these batteries and make sure they are out of reach of any child.
  • Make sure that everyone in your home works together to think safely, make sure they all know about the messages in this story. Make sure older children are aware of choking, to protect themselves and to look out for younger children they may play with or help you to keep an eye on.
  • We don't want to scare any child(ren), or YOU, but choking, suffocation and strangulation is one of five principal (main) causes of serious injuries for the under-fives in England. While hospital admissions are low these accidents lead to the highest number of deaths for the under-fives.
  • So why is it so easy to choke? The following information is taken from:

What things can you find around the house that could make a child choke?

  • Hard foods like sweets, nuts and uncooked beans and pulses that you might use in cooking.
  • Large pieces of food, and it doesn't have to be hard food! It could be something soft like a grape or a dried apricot, it's the size that matters.
  • Coins, buttons or 'small things' like the stuff that comes as packaging.
  • Small toys or little bits from bigger toys.
  • Chewed up paper, greetings cards, balloons before they have been blown up or when they have burst.
  • Anything else small enough to go in a mouth but too big for a child's narrow throat
    • essentially just be as aware as you possibly can.

Why do children choke so easily?

  • They really don't understand the risks - that's why we have to be on guard as much as we do.
  • They like to put things in their mouths - it's part of how they learn about the world.
  • A child's throat is only narrow so things can block it much more easily.
  • A child may not chew their food, as they may not know they should, or they don't have the teeth for it!
  • Children need to learn how to chew, swallow and breath in the right order and this can take a little time to do so always be around your child, or the child you may be looking after when they eat or drink.

What can you do to try and lower the risks of choking as much as possible?

  • Babies should be held when you give them a drink or any food.
  • Cut food up, for a child, in to small pieces.
  • Put small things where a child can't find them to choke on.
  • Be aware of things you give to children to play with. Could something come off or could something be 'mushed up' by them and put in their mouth, things like greetings cards is a good example.
  • Don't let a child walk or run about with food in their mouth.
  • Only give a child toys that are right for their age - and remember, old wrapping, cards and other things are not toys and could lead to choking.

And please make sure your child(ren) knows and understands this one very important thing…

  • Remember to tell your child(ren) that if they are ever worried or have done something that might be dangerous then they should tell you straight away - it could save their life.
  • You might get cross with them later on but you would help them straight away if something bad had happened.
  • 'I love you and want to keep you safe' is the message you want them to remember!