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You’ve decided now is the right time to start baby food, you know what path you are taking and you’re ready to get a little messy. Good for you, mama!
One step parents often don’t think about until they have to and are in the middle of a difficult situation is choking. While being prepared is absolutely a must, it is best to know the necessary precautions to take to prevent choking from occurring.
We’ve compiled seven tips to consider when starting your little one on solids.
1. Keep food pieces small
This is an obvious first choice for choking prevention, but how small is small? It is recommended when starting out to cut food into long, thin sticks. Think about the length and width of your pinky finger.
2. Mash hard foods
Items such as apple, carrot, and potato are great sources of nutrition but might be challenging for your little one to mush up. Give them a hand and mash the items prior to serving.
3. Avoid sticky foods
There is a buffet of yummy food items waiting for your little one now that you are starting solids. However, avoid items that have a gel consistency or are sticky like peanut butter until your little one has shown they can effectively chew food and swallow without gagging.
4. Use a mesh food feeder
If you aren’t ready to give your baby pieces of food, try a mesh food feeder. Baby can chew and mush up their own soft fruits and veggies without the worry of small pieces not being chewed. This provides a great hands-on experience for baby and, even though there might be a mess, you’ll have peace of mind.
5. Always be sitting
It’s easy to give little ones a snack on the move and let them pick over the items. When you are starting out and as your little grows into a toddler, it’s advised to take all meals while sitting securely in a high chair or booster. This allows your little one to avoid abrupt bumps or jolts and accidentally choking on a food item. Having a secure place for their feet also allows them to effectively cough and attempt to clear their throat if they do start to choke.
6. Encourage healthy chewing habits
Our littles ones mimic us and can learn how to effectively chew at an early age. Showing good chewing habits while you eat sets a great example as well as showing the chewing motion for littles who are just beginning their food journey.
7. Watch your little one while they eat
If you are like me, taking advantage of the time when your little one is occupied is golden. As hard as it might be, eating is not one of those times where you want to be distracted. Similar to having baby in the tub, you want to constantly observe baby while they are eating to ensure they aren’t having any difficulties swallowing. Choking can be silent if your baby’s airway gets blocked and they are unable to cough. Distraction can prevent you from assisting sooner to clear the blockage.
While choking is not always 100% avoidable, you can take the necessary steps to prevent accidents from occurring. That said, even when you are the most prepared, accidents still happen which is why we highly recommend becoming CPR certified. While we all know about back blows and CPR basics, having the necessary training to ensure you are confident if the situation occurs is worth the investment of time. To find local certification classes, visit https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr.