Common Food & Non-Food Choking Hazards

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.


The Basics:

  • 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

  • Apple

  • Under-ripe pear

  • Whole corn kernels

  • Bell peppers

  • Raw peas

  • Raw carrots

  • Raw leafy greens

  • Raw celery

  • Raw cucumber

  • 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

  • Chickpeas

  • Oranges (unless membrane is removed)

  • Pomegranate Arils

  • 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

  • Shrimp

  • Hot dogs (especially cut into coin shape), meat sticks, sausages

  • Fish with bones

  • Large chunks of cheese (especially string or cubed cheese)

  • Cookies

  • Granola Bars

  • Hard chips (e.g. potato, corn, pretzels, etc.)

  • Crackers

  • 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

  • Popcorn

  • Hard Candy, jelly beans, caramels, gum drops, gummy candies, lollipops

  • Gum

  • Chewy Fruit Snacks

  • Marshmallows

  • Tapioca Beads

  • Ice Cubes


Non-food:

  • Toys:

  • Latex balloons (whole deflated balloons and broken pieces)

  • Marbles

  • Toys with Small Parts

  • Small Magnetic Balls (i.e. “rare earth magnets”)

  • Figurines

  • Bean Bag Chair or Toy Stuffing

  • Around the House:

  • Coins

  • Small Round Items (e.g. toys, balls, stones, beads)

  • Safety Pins

  • Button-type Batteries (can be fatal within two hours)

  • Medical Syringes

  • Laundry/Dish Detergent Pods

  • Plastic Water Bottle Caps

  • Doorstop Toppers

  • Screws, Bolts & Washers

  • Pieces of Dry Pet Food

  • Jewelry (e.g. rings, earrings, pins, etc.)

  • Small Magnets

  • Small Hair Ties, Barretts

  • Rubber Bands

  • Holiday decorations (e.g. lights, ornaments, figurines, tinsel)

  • Office Supplies:

  • Caps from pens or markers

  • Crayons

  • Erasers

  • Staples

  • Any item that is labeled as a choking hazard on the packaging