The Fourth of July is not only a time to celebrate friends and family, but it’s also the unofficial kick-off to summer. The festivities are often full of grilling, swimming, and fireworks: all things that are super fun, but also pose serious hazards to children. Dr. Tanya Altmann, author of “Baby & Toddler Basics”, tells USA Today that hotdogs, arguably the most popular July 4th food, are a huge choking risk for kids.
Altmann tells the publication that any food that is “large, round and solid” can be dangerous for children to consume. Hotdogs make the top of the list since, as the USDA’s April 2019 “Infant Nutrition and Feeding” guide notes, “are exactly the size of a child’s airway and can easily wedge in there.”
To avoid choking, parents should cut up their kids’ hotdogs lengthwise first, then again into smaller pieces. The AAP also recommends all foods for young children be cut into 1/2 inch pieces or smaller. Altmann says that around age four, the choking hazard lessens because kids are “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.” Though, she adds, this rule isn’t cut and dry, as “anything can be a choking hazard.”
Parents should also teach kids to eat small bites and chew thoroughly before swallowing, as well as to carefully supervise children when eating. If a child is choking, parents should immediately call 911 and implement a rescue procedure like back blows for infants or the Heimlich Maneuver for older kids.
Stay safe this weekend!