Preventing Poisoning and Choking in Baby

Crawling and toddling babies are very curious. They explore and learn by putting things they find in their mouths. There are many hazards around the house that can choke or poison your baby. As soon as your baby starts crawling, the floor must be kept free of small objects that can be swallowed.

Choking Hazards

• Baby powder
• Balloons — other than food, balloons are the leading cause of choking deaths by children
• Beads, buttons
• Bean bag toys or dried beans
• Coins (money)
• Marbles
• Paper clips
• Pen caps
• Small toy parts (button eyes, ball-fringe noses, small wheels) and squeakers from squeeze toys
• Small, flat, circular batteries
• Straight pins, safety pins, bobby pins

Do not give these “choking foods” to your baby:
• Chewing gum
• Dried beans (very dangerous, they swell when wet)
• Fruits with seeds or pits
• Whole grapes, cherry tomatoes (ok, if cut into small pieces)
• Hard, raw vegetables (carrots, celery & hard peas)
• Whole or coin shaped hot dogs or sausages (ok, if cut in small pieces)
• Marshmallows
• Meat that is hard to chew
• Nuts
• Peanut butter, unless spread thinly
• Popcorn
• Potato chips or other chips
• Raisins
• Round, hard candy

If Your Baby Is Choking

It’s a good idea to take a child safety and CPR class. Many hospitals offer these classes for new parents.

If your baby can cry, cough, or use his voice then his airway is not completely blocked and he can breathe. Do not do anything; let the food work its way down. However, if your baby is choking and can’t breathe, you must act quickly! If he cannot cry, breathe or cough, or his voice sounds weak or squeaky, he is choking.


1. Get help. If possible, get someone else to call 911 or your local emergency number while you take care of your baby.
2. Turn your baby face down across your lap or over your forearm, using your thigh for support. His head should be lower than his chest. Support his body with your hand.
3. With the heel of your other hand, give 4 firm, quick blows, between his shoulder blades.
4. If steps 2 and 3 don’t work, place your baby on his back on a firm surface. Using your index and middle fingers (the 2 fingers closest to your thumb), press the middle of his breastbone inward (about 1/2 to 1 inch) 5 times rapidly, one right after the other.

Baby looking at poison bottle

Household Poison Hazards

• Button-sized batteries
• Drinking alcohol
• House plants such as azaleas, philodendron, dieffenbachia, Swedish ivy, holly, rhododendron and poinsettias
• Household cleaners that contain bleach, lye, ammonia, or turpentine; furniture polish
• Insecticide
• Kerosene, lighter fluid, gasoline
• Lead-based paint
• Medicine (prescription and over-the-counter)
• Vitamins rich in iron

To help prevent accidental poisoning:

• Don’t keep poisonous plants in your home
• Don’t put rat or bug poisons on floors
• Keep poisons and medicines in their original containers so you will have instructions on what to do in case of accidental poisoning
• Keep poisons in cabinets with safety-latches or out of your baby’s reach
• Keep your purse out of your baby’s reach; many costmetics are poisonous
• Make sure all medicines have child-proof caps and keep them out of your baby’s reach

If Your Baby Swallows Poison

Buy and keep syrup of ipecac in your medicine cabinet. Syrup of ipecac, which you can buy at the drug store, will cause vomiting. However, do not use ipecac without checking with poison control, your pharmacist, or pediatrician. Do not give your baby ipecac if he is drowsy or unresponsive or has swallowed lye, acid, or other corrosives. Keep a pen, paper, and the number for your local poison control center near your phone. When you call, have the product container with you; it has the name of the product, its ingredients, and what to do in case of swallowing. You will need to know how much your baby weighs and, if possible, how much of the product he has swallowed. Write down the advice you are given — it’s easy to forget instructions when you are upset or scared.

More About Starting Your Baby on Solids Foods

When should I offer solid foods and what should those foods be?
Is Your Baby Ready to Try Solid Foods?
Changes in Bowel Movements
Feeding Himself
Shopping For Baby’s Food
Your Baby’s Menu
Food Supplements
Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
Preventing Poisoning and Choking

Feedings Tips for Month 12

By now your baby can feed himself pretty well using his fingers and is beginning to use a spoon. He may be drinking from a cup and fully weaned from your breast or his bottle. Although his eating habits may be irregular, he has probably tripled his birthweight.

From now on, his growth rate will be somewhat slower, so he needs slightly fewer calories to gain weight normally. Give him a variety of nutritious foods that taste good to him and he will eat enough to thrive. He may be a picky eater, but he won’t starve himself. Don’t make a big deal of him eating everything on his plate and he will learn to eat when he’s hungry and develop healthy eating habits.