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Preventing Food-Related Choking and How to Reduce the Risk

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Helping adults 2Healthy foods such as apples can be dangerous for young children.

A 10 month old died after choking on a piece of apple at her UK nursery in 2006. A 14 month old attending an NZ early childhood education centre in 2008 died also after he choked on apple.   

There is no legal requirement for early childhood services on what foods can and cannot be given to children. 

But safety and preventing harm should always be the priority of early childhood services and teachers. 


Reduce the Possibility of Choking

Until at least 3 years of age but safer if not before a child is 5 years and has their full set of molar teeth do not provide foods that health professionals have identified to be a high choking risk.

Such foods include:

  • sausage/saveloy 
  • peanuts
  • raw apple
  • raw carrot
  • grapes and
  • popcorn. 

Do not give small pieces of hard food.  The risk of coking can be reduced by cooking, mashing, and grating. Give cooked/soft instead of raw pieces of apple. 

A child should always have an adult sitting with them while eating. The adult should know and have First Aid training on what to do if the child chokes.

A child who is eating should not be walking or running around, but should be seated, and focused on eating with minimal distraction so that the child chews food as necessary and does not swallow whole by accident.

Ask parents what foods and in what sized portions their child can safely manage at home. Each child is different.

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