OK, can we all just admit we feed our kids hot dogs, already?
Yes, there’s the whole nitrate and nitrite thing. Yes, there’s the zero nutritional value. Yes, there’s the judgment from Facebook Rebecca, who keeps her kids on an organic, plant-based diet and instead feeds them entire grilled carrots.
But the truth is, most kids looove hot dogs. They’re tasty. They’re fun. And if you can come up with an easier way to get a toddler to eat dinner, we’d like to hear it.
So, since we’re all feeding our kids hot dogs, anyway, here’s a friendly reminder that you need to cut your kid’s favourite meal length-wise as well as width-wise until they’re at least four years old.
Because that delicious tube-steak presents a very real choking hazard for young kids. And cutting it into bite-sized chunks isn’t enough.
Choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths in infants and toddlers in Canada, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS). Most foods involved in choking cases are small, round, or cylindrical in shape, CPS noted. Hot dog rounds, whole grapes, carrot slices, peanuts, seeds and hard candy, are some of the worst offenders.
In fact, in 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) noted that hot dogs pose the greatest choking risk in kids since they cause more choking deaths than any other food.
“If you were to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, you couldn’t do much better than a hot dog,” Dr. Gary Smith, a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, said in an AAP news release.
“It will wedge itself in tightly and completely block the airway, causing the child to die within minutes because of lack of oxygen.”
Cut hot dogs length-wise, as well as width-wise, AAP notes in a 2010 handout. (Do the same with grapes, while you’re at it). This will change the shape so it’s less likely to get stuck in a kid’s throat.
And no kid under the age of four should eat a hot dog unless its been cut into very small pieces.
Kids around age four “are a little more aware, their throats are a little bit bigger and they are able to handle things that need to be chewed a little more before they swallow them,” pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, author of Baby & Toddler Basics told USA Today.
But be aware that four isn’t a “magical” number, she added. “Anything can be a choking hazard.”
For older kids who want to eat their hot dogs like a grownup, try slicing the hot dog length-wise before putting it in the bun to reduce the choking hazard, Altmann added. And teach kids of all ages to take small bites and chew what’s in their mouths.
What to do if your child chokes
If your baby chokes, but is coughing, that is actually called partial-choking, and the coughing is a good thing. “A baby who is coughing is still able to breathe, do not hinder his efforts to expel the object. Stay with him and watch him closely,” the Canadian Red Cross notes.
If your baby is choking and wheezing, making high-pitched sounds, too weak too cough, or making no sound at all, shout for help, have someone call 9-1-1, and start care immediately. This involves giving the baby alternating back blows and chest compressions.
With kids, if the child is choking and cannot talk, breathe, or cough or is making high-pitched noises, begin care immediately. This involves a combination of back blows, abdominal thrusts, and chest thrusts, according to the Canadian Red Cross. Keep going until the object comes out or the child can breathe again.
If the child becomes unresponsive, call 9-1-1 and begin chest compressions.
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