In case you’re curious, babies don’t just shove objects into their mouths to drive you crazy—there is a real, developmental need for them to do it. “Mouthing”, as child development experts call it, is one of the main ways babies learn about new objects. Yes, they can pick up that block and feel it with their hands, bang it on the floor to hear what noise it makes, but they also have a basic, curious need to then lick the shit out of it. It’s a very normal and healthy, albeit kinda gross, way babies explore the world. There are even some theories that babies naturally build up their immune system by mouthing objects to introduce new viruses and bacteria to their system. So all around, mouthing is great.
The problem is these tiny babies have no common sense, and a baby’s windpipe (trachea) is about the width of a drinking straw, so it doesn’t take much to get it clogged up. If they find a coin or a paper clip on the floor, then it’s fair game to shove in the old pie hole. That’s when we, as parents, must seriously step-up our baby-proofing game, and really analyze all the potential choking hazards that can easily be found around the house.
When I think of choking, I always think of food (I’m looking at you, grapes!!) but surprisingly, these are some of the most common.
Top choking hazards for babies:
(both fridge magnets and toy magnets): In addition to being a choking hazard, if successfully swallowed, two powerful magnets will find each other in the digestive track by tearing holes through a child’s bowels, small intestine, etc. Very bad news.
The worst offenders are those tiny, round button lithium batteries that come in toys, remotes, and musical greeting cards. They basically look like candy. Not only are they a choking hazard, but if swallowed, one of those tiny magnets can get caught in body tissue and cause a severe chemical burn.
So fun and pretty, but when they burst the pieces go flying and, if inhaled, the latex can perfectly conform to the opening of the trachea. No bueno.
There are so many horror stories of kids getting these lodged in their throats or biting into them causing chemical burns. They look unassuming and, unfortunately, very delicious.
Water Bottle Caps:
Plastic water bottles tend to be very high on a baby’s list of coveted items. The top is the perfect shape to shove against sore, teething gums and the bottle crinkles—so fun! But it turns out those round lids are a common choking hazard, so keep an eye out for them sitting around or take them off before handing your baby one of the best toys ever.
They’re shiny, they’re smooth, they tumble out of adults’ pockets, what’s not to love? I find these to be a big offender at grandparents’ houses. Coins are everywhere and they are just the right size to block off a baby’s airway.
You know those white plastic things that cover door stoppers? A determined baby can totally wedge those off and pop it like a Skittle. Clever monkeys.
These are basically a perfect-sized plug for your child’s trachea. Cut up hot dogs LENGTH WISE and then into smaller pieces from there.
They should be chopped in half lengthwise and then quartered from there. Ditto other round fruits, like grape tomatoes and strawberries.
Popcorn, peanuts, nuts & seeds, carrots, apples:
I thought some of these were all fine until I read how easily these tough/hard snacks can block the airway if not chewed up properly.
Peanut butter is dangerous because it can mold and conform to block a child’s airway. The same goes for things like gum and taffy.
Dry kibble is often accessible to a crawling baby looking for a handy snack and is often a perfect windpipe size. Blocking off a feeding station for your pet is something to consider combatting this sneaky choking hazard.
These compressible treats get stuck together and can plug up an airway pretty quick.