Preventing suffocation and choking

Essential information to rememberYoung children often choke on small everyday objects and food.

Photo: Pascale Turcotte

Information to which you should pay special attentionLatex balloons are dangerous for young children because they can choke on them. Make sure balloons (both inflated and uninflated) and pieces of popped balloon are always kept out of children’s reach.

Small objects and cords

Young children tend to put everything they touch in their mouth. Since small objects can be swallowed easily and cause choking, it is best to keep them out of your child’s reach.

To help parents determine if an object is dangerous, the Canadian Paediatric Society uses the image of an empty toilet paper roll. If an object can fit in a toilet paper roll, a child could choke on it and it should not be left within a child’s reach.

Some types of food can also become lodged in your child’s throat or block her airways. The rules of thumb in the Choking risk: Be extra careful until age 4 section will help you steer clear of foods that pose a choking hazard.

Your child can also suffocate on objects that risk covering her mouth and nose (like a plastic bag), preventing her from breathing. It is a good idea to put a knot in used plastic bags before putting them away or throwing them in a recycling bin (if they can be recycled) or a garbage can out of children’s reach.

Caution must also be exercised with hanging cords and toys, like mobiles. Cords on clothing, curtains, and toys should be no longer than 20 cm.