Once your baby starts putting everything into their mouth (whether it’s food you’re serving them or a dust bunny they found behind the couch), it’s time to start familiarizing yourself with common choking hazards.
This list is not exhaustive (since any food can present a choking risk), so always use your best judgment, supervise all meals and snacks closely, and take an infant CPR course so that you are prepared in the case of an emergency.
Choking is when something gets lodged in the windpipe and prevents the baby from breathing, which cuts off oxygen to the brain.
Choking is silent.
A baby’s windpipe is about the size of a drinking straw.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solids with babies around 6 months (when baby can sit with little or no support, has good head control, and opens their mouth and leans forward when offered food).
Always supervise baby when eating.
Baby should be sitting upright in a safe place like a high chair (as opposed to sitting in a car seat/stroller or crawling/walking).
Eat with baby so that you can model chewing.
Offer liquids between mouthfuls, after baby has swallowed.
Foods become more of a choking hazard the rounder, firmer, or slipperier they are.
Explain to other children who are present that baby can choke on certain foods as well as household items that fit through a toilet paper roll. Children are often innocently eager to share their grapes, legos, Barbie's shoes, etc. with babies.
Check out resources like Solid Starts and My Little Eater for suggestions on how to modify certain foods to make them safe for baby.
Potential Food Choking Hazards (6-12 Months):
Pieces of hard raw fruit and vegetables
Whole corn kernels
Raw leafy greens
Whole (uncut) cherry or grape tomatoes
Whole pieces of canned fruit
Whole (uncut) grapes, berries, cherries, melon balls
Uncooked dry fruit (e.g. raisins, apricots)
Whole or chopped nuts
Oranges (unless membrane is removed)
Large whole seeds (e.g. pumpkin, sunflower)
Food with small pits in them (e.g. olives, cherries)
Spoonfuls of nut butters (e.g. peanut butter)
Tough or large chunks of meat
Hot dogs (especially cut into coin shape), meat sticks, sausages
Fish with bones
Large chunks of cheese (especially string or cubed cheese)
Hard chips (e.g. potato, corn, pretzels, etc.)
Foods that clump/glob (e.g. soft, fresh bread)
Bread with large seeds, nut pieces or whole grain kernels
Whole kernels of cooked rice, barley, wheat or other grains
Hard Candy, jelly beans, caramels, gum drops, gummy candies, lollipops
Chewy Fruit Snacks
Latex balloons (whole deflated balloons and broken pieces)
Toys with Small Parts
Small Magnetic Balls (i.e. “rare earth magnets”)
Bean Bag Chair or Toy Stuffing
Around the House:
Small Round Items (e.g. toys, balls, stones, beads)
Button-type Batteries (can be fatal within two hours)
Laundry/Dish Detergent Pods
Plastic Water Bottle Caps
Screws, Bolts & Washers
Pieces of Dry Pet Food
Jewelry (e.g. rings, earrings, pins, etc.)
Small Hair Ties, Barretts
Holiday decorations (e.g. lights, ornaments, figurines, tinsel)
Caps from pens or markers
Any item that is labeled as a choking hazard on the packaging