Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Preventing Choking in Small Children

Preventing Choking in Small Children


Young children can easily choke on food and everyday objects. You can help prevent your child from choking by offering the right kinds of foods and watching for choking hazards.


To prevent choking, use care when you select and prepare food. Do not give round, firm foods to children younger than age 4 unless the food is chopped completely. Foods that can be choking hazards include:

  • Seeds (for example, sunflower or watermelon).
  • Nuts.
  • Popcorn.
  • Hot dogs.
  • Chunks of peanut butter.
  • Raw vegetables.
  • Raisins.
  • Whole grapes.
  • Chunks of meat or cheese.
  • Hard or sticky candy.
  • Chewing gum.
  • Chunks of fruit, such as apple chunks.

Toys and other objects

Young children can choke on:

  • Toys, such as:
    • Jacks, marbles, and marble-sized balls.
    • Latex balloons, either uninflated or broken pieces. Balloons are easily inhaled into the windpipe.
    • Those with small detachable parts, like wheels.
  • Household objects, such as:
    • Rubber bands.
    • Coins.
    • Adhesive bandages.
    • Buttons.
    • Beads and other jewelry.
    • Thumbtacks and screws.
    • Paper clips, pen tops, and safety pins.
    • Clothing price tags.
    • Small holiday decorations.
  • Kitchen items, such as:
    • Eggshells.
    • Bottle caps.
    • Plastic tabs from protective coverings on containers.
How can you prevent choking in small children?

How can you prevent choking in small children?

Preventing choking on food

To help prevent your child from choking on food, follow these basic food safety tips.

  • Teach your child to eat only in the kitchen or dining room.

    Be sure your child sits down while eating and that they chew carefully. Don't allow your child to eat while walking, running, riding in a car, or playing.

  • Don't force your child to eat when they aren't hungry.
  • Know the kinds of foods that can be choking hazards.

    These include foods like popcorn, hotdogs, and grapes.

  • Prepare food for your children to reduce the risk of choking.
    Fruit with skins or pits, such as apples or apricots.

    Remove pits and peel fruits before you give them to your child. Fruits can also be diced or cooked and mashed.

    Fish or chicken with bones.

    Carefully cut the meat off the bone and then into small pieces. Check meat thoroughly for any signs of bones.

    Peanut butter.

    A spoonful of peanut butter can block the windpipe. Peanut butter can also stick to the lining of the throat and windpipe, making a child unable to breathe. Only allow peanut butter that is spread thinly on a slice of bread or a cracker.

    Hot dogs and sausages.

    Slice and dice these meats. You may want to remove the skin before you cut them.


    Peel and mash grapes before you serve them.

    Beans (green, string, lima, kidney, and others the size of a marble or larger).

    Mash beans before you serve them.


    Each single pea is small. But a child who eats more than one pea at a time may choke.

    Whole carrots.

    A child may break off too big a bite and choke. Cook carrots and cut them into smaller pieces. Or cut raw carrots into thin slices.

Preventing choking on toys and other objects

You can help prevent your child from choking by following basic safety tips.

  • Teach your child not to put objects in their mouth.
  • Know what things a child is likely to choke on.

    Choking hazards include:

    • Toys such as marbles, balloons, or toys with small parts that can come off.
    • Household objects such as coins, buttons, and even jewelry.
    • Kitchen objects such as bottle caps and eggshells.
  • Test small objects by passing them through a toilet-paper tube.

    If small objects fit inside, they could become lodged in the throat of a young child.

  • Look for age guidelines when selecting toys.
    • Do not let your child play with a toy if they are younger than the recommended age for the toy.
    • The safest toys for small children are at least 1.25 in. (3 cm) around or 2.25 in. (6 cm) in length.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Swallowed or Inhaled Objects Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years Health and Safety, Ages 2 to 5 Years Growth and Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months Choking Rescue Procedure: Heimlich Maneuver

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna


Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

The Cigna Group Information

About Cigna Healthcare Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers The Cigna Group Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap Cookie Settings


Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details