Preventing Choking and Strangulation

Ways you can prevent choking with children

  • Always supervise young children while they are eating and keep small objects that are potential choking hazards out of their reach.
  • Do not allow children under age 3 to eat small, round or hard foods, including small pieces of hot dogs, cheese sticks/chunks, hard candy, nuts, grapes and popcorn. Other hazardous food items include raw vegetables, jellybeans, raw unpeeled fruit slices, dried fruits, grapes or chunks of meat.
  • Cut foods into small pieces and give infants soft foods that they do not need to chew.
  • Do not let your child eat or suck on anything like candy while lying down or playing. Have children sit in a high chair or at a table while they eat.
  • Get on the floor on your hands and knees, so that you are at your child’s eye level. Look for and remove small items such as jewelry, coins, buttons, pins, nails and stones.

    Make sure toys and other items children play with do not pose a choking hazard.

    • Children should play with safe and age-appropriate toys, as indicated by choking hazard safety labels.
    • Toys that are labeled for children 3 years and older should be kept away from children under age 3. These toys may have small parts and could cause choking if placed in the mouth.
    • Regularly check toys for damage that may have created loose small parts. Damaged or dangerous toys should be repaired or thrown away immediately.
    • Consider purchasing a small parts tester to determine whether toys and objects in your home may present a hazard to young children. If you do not have a small parts tester, you can use an empty toilet paper roll, which is slightly larger in diameter than a small parts tester.  Do not let young children play with anything that can fit into these cylinders.
    • Sign up to receive product recalls with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    Ways you can prevent strangulation with children

    • Consider using cordless window products (shades, blinds, draperies) in homes with children.
    • Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords and keep these out of the reach of children.
    • If you live in a building where contractually you are not allowed to replace your window coverings, Safe Kids USA recommends following basic window cord safety rules and ordering free retrofit kits from the Window Covering Safety Council.
    • Remove cords and drawstrings from your child’s clothing, accessories and toys.
    • Never use strings or ribbon to tie a pacifier or toy to your baby or around your baby’s neck. Do not use a bib with ties on your baby and remove the bib before bedtime or nap time.
    • Do not allow children to wear necklaces, purses, scarves, helmets or clothing with drawstrings while on playgrounds.
    • Avoid toys with strings or cords.

    Safe Kids USA downloads

    • Carbon monoxide poisoning fact sheet - PDF
    • Choking and stangulation tips - PDF
    • Baby safety basics guide - PDF (ENG) | PDF (SPA)

    Website resources