The Fourth of July is not only a time to celebrate with close friends and family — it’s also the unofficial kickoff to the backyard season. Old and new backyard traditions, from outdoor movie night to lounging in cool pools can commence. Summer festivities are often full of grilling, swimming, and fireworks: all things that are superfun, but also pose serious hazards to children. Dr. Tanya Altmann, author of Baby & Toddler Basics, says that hotdogs, arguably the most popular July 4th food, are a huge choking risk for kids.
Altmann noted to USA Today that any food that’s “large, round and solid” can be dangerous for children to consume. Hotdogs make the top of the list because they are, as the USDA’s Infant Nutrition and Feeding guide notes, “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 half-inch pieces or smaller. Altmann says that around age 4, 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!