Mom reveals ‘lesser known’ choking hazard all parents should know

paramedic mother

Watch out for leftover rubber balloons (Picture: Instagram/tinyheartseducation)

One choking hazard that many parents won’t consider is a paramedic mom being spotted on TikTok.

Advanced life support paramedic and CEO of Australian parenting organization Tiny Hearts Education, Nikki Jurcutz, is asked more than anything about choking by new parents.

She explains that a dangerous hazard to watch out for is the leftover balloon rubber.

Nikki says: ‘I recently hosted a birthday party and I was cleaning up and found this part of a balloon… these are huge choking hazards and you have to be super careful around balloons.

“You can imagine it’s almost impossible to knock back to get this up when it’s stuck. So be super vigilant.’

As a result, she also shared some simple tips to avoid choking.


Other points to watch out for to avoid choking:

In addition to balloons, there are other small objects that children can choke on:

  • Small Parts Toys and Doll Accessories
  • coins
  • safety pins
  • paper clips
  • thumbnails
  • Marbles and small balls
  • Nails, bolts and screws
  • erasers
  • Batteries
  • Broken crayons
  • Jewelery
  • small magnets
  • Small bottle caps, including chocolate syrup, pancake syrup, and soda (kids can try licking the sweet drops from the caps, which can get stuck in the airways).

The ‘squish test’

This will help you figure out which finger foods are safe.

Just ‘squeeze the food between your index fingers and thumb’.

“This mimics the pressure of a toothless little one’s gums,” says Nikki.

“If the food compresses easily, that means it’s safe and the bub can chew.

“If it doesn’t crush easily, you have to boil, grate or puree it so that it becomes soft enough to pass the test.”

The ‘choke check hack’

Make a hole with your index finger and thumb, then try to drop objects through it.

You can try it with things like a cherry, popcorn, a grape, and small toys.

‘For example, I check whether food or small objects can pose a choking hazard to my breasts,’ explains Nikki.

‘The circle is about the size of the airways of a 0-3 year old child. If anything fits in this hole, there’s a choking hazard.”

The ‘consistency test’

Nikki says there are three types of foods to look out for: round, smooth, and firm items.

If something fits into these categories, you can grate or quarter the food.

“Think grapes, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, nuts, raw carrot, apple, popcorn, gum, coins, marbles, and batteries,” she says.

“The greater the roundness, firmness or smoothness of an object, the greater the choking hazard.”

For example, you can cut grapes into quarters and roll slippery foods like avocado in fine breadcrumbs.

Also make sure that your child is always safe and secure in a high chair within easy reach while eating.


Other tips to avoid choking:

  • Keep distractions to a minimum so they can focus on eating, such as not watching TV.

  • Always have a drink within reach.
  • Encourage children to sit while eating and chew well.
  • Teach children to chew and swallow their food before talking or laughing.
  • Supervise older children, who may not know not to feed younger children.

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