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Being a parent can be a scary job, with many threats to prepare for. In order to take the best measures to protect them, it’s important that we understand potential risks and how to protect our little ones.

Because kids are small, with developing brains, they are immensely curious. It is so very easy for them to pick something up, wanting to understand what it is and how it works- and pop it in their mouth. While this may be a difficult subject to talk about-it’s one that is important. Did you know that 34 children every five days are admitted to emergency facilities for choking?

And while we don’t encourage you to panic or place your child in a bubble suit-there are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Insist on good posture.

Experts agree it’s very important for small children to sit up while eating, to prevent them from choking. You can help this, by providing a good booster chair or high chair that has a firm back. Additionally, they need something to rest their feet on. Otherwise, just be mindful and have them sit up.

2. Provide them with utensils.

When your little ones eat with their hands, it’s a lot easier for them to shove too much food in. When they use a utensil, it cuts back on the size of their bites and makes it less likely they will choke.

3. Discourage talking while their mouth is full.

Your little one may want to talk with their mouth full, but this is a habit that should be discouraged. Not because of the ‘rude’ connotation of doing so, but because it makes it easier for something to slip and get stuck in their windpipe.

4. Keep small objects out of sight.

While eating poses a great threat-eating times are not the only threat. Small objects, like small balls, marbles, buttons, legos, coins, and many other things may be perceived as food by your child. Even if it’s not-kids like to throw things in their mouths and ask questions later. So, please keep them put up as much as possible.

5. Diligently pay attention to what they put in their mouth.

While you may not be able to watch their every move, it’s important to keep a close eye on what they are putting in their mouth. Any time you see them pop something in, and you are uncertain of what it is- be sure to check.

6. Avoid car eating.

On-the-go snacks are convenient, but be wary of providing snacks that are easy to choke on. It’s much easier to stop them from choking when you can see them – which will be hard to do if you are driving.

7. Keep mealtimes calm.

Make mealtimes a calm time, to avoid them getting overstimulated. When your little one is overly excitable-they might end up getting choked on their dinner.

8. Prepare for it if it does happen.

If your child does begin choking, if they can still cough, speak or cry-they may cough the food out. However, you still need to call 911, just in case. If your little one cannot make sounds, looks pale, or is coughing weakly-call 911, or have someone call, while you do the Heimlich maneuver. Please school yourself on that, and you can use this resource to do so.

If you suspect they are choking on something like a battery, magnet, medicine, or anything that could be dangerous like poison, contact the poison helpline at 800-222-1222.