Choking Food Hazards for Children

According to the American Red Cross, the first stage in the cardiac chain of survival for children and infants is prevention. The New York Health Department says on their website, "At least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the U.S., and more than 12,000 children are taken to a hospital emergency room each year for food-choking injuries."

Family practicing black blows on a infant manikin.
Family practicing black blows on a infant manikin simulating to be a conscious chocking infant.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s put together a list of choking hazards for young children that include but are not limited to:

  • Fruits and Vegetables

  • Cooked or raw whole corn kernels

  • Uncut cherry or grape tomatoes

  • Pieces of hard raw vegetables or fruit, such as raw carrots or apples

  • Whole pieces of canned fruit

  • Uncut grapes, berries, cherries, or melon balls

  • Uncooked dried vegetables or fruit, such as raisins

  • Grains

  • Cookies or granola bars

  • Potato or corn chips, pretzels, popcorn, or similar snack foods

  • Crackers or breads with seeds, nut pieces, or whole grain kernels

  • Whole grain kernels of cooked barley, wheat, or other grains

  • Plain wheat germ

  • Whole or chopped nuts and seeds

  • Chunks or spoonfuls of nut and seed butters, such as peanut butter

  • Tough or large chunks of meat

  • Proteins

  • Hot dogs, meat sticks, or sausages

  • Large chunks of cheese, especially string cheese

  • Bones in meat or fish

  • Whole beans

  • Sweet and Sticky Foods

  • Round or hard candy, jelly beans, caramels, gum drops, or gummy candies

  • Chewy fruit snacks

  • Chewing gum

  • Marshmallows


"At least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the U.S., and more than 12,000 children are taken to a hospital emergency room each year for food-choking injuries." - New York Health Department

A good rule of thumb:

  • Avoid servings food bigger then a nickel

  • Always cut tube shaped food (i.e. hot dogs, cheese sticks, grapes)

  • Avoid food that are sticky ( i.e. gum, marshmallows,

  • Avoid foods that can break into smaller chunks (i.e. cookies and granola bars)

More information on food safety can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at the following link. United States Department of Agriculture has created a pamphlet as well on how to reduce the risk of choking in young children at mealtimes.

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