When food or small objects get caught in a child’s throat and block the airway, choking can occur. When the airway is blocked, oxygen cannot get to the lungs and brain. Without oxygen, brain damage or death can occur. Young children are at a high risk for choking. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choking is the leading cause of death in young children, especially those under age three.
Fortunately, nannies can take steps to reduce the risk of choking in the children in her care. When caring for infants, be sure that the child does not have access to toys or objects smaller than 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inches in diameter. The size of young infant’s fist is a reliable guide to determine what can fit inside the child’s mouth and potentially cause choking. Common choking hazards for young children include small toys, plastic bags, coins, deflated and pieces of latex balloons, jewelry, personal care items and inappropriate foods such as nuts, globs of peanut butter, gum and candy. These foods should be reserved for children over the age of 4. Vigilant supervision, especially during mealtimes, can help to reduce the risk of choking in children.