Hot Dogs Are Choking Hazards for Toddlers, Experts Remind Parents

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The summer season is a time for backyard barbecues or games at the park while eating hot dogs with family, but experts remind parents to be more conscious of what they feed their kids as hot dogs are choking hazards for toddlers.

According to the pediatric doctors at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, hot dogs rank as the number one cause of choking in children below three years old, where 17 percent of the cases involve inhaling the food.

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Dr. Nisha Kapadia said that the shape of hotdogs is "just the right size and consistency" to block a tiny child's airway. This food becomes like plugs that will stop the flow of air in the toddler's lungs.

Dr. Tanya Altmann, who wrote the book Baby & Toddler Basics, agreed that hot dogs' long and round shapes become such choking hazards for toddlers who usually bite a thick quarter of the food.

Preventing a Choking Hazard

Ideally, hot dogs should be given to children above four years old as they become more aware of what they eat and handle chewing food better before swallowing. However, if parents still prefer to feed their toddlers with hot dogs, they should consider mashing it up, mincing, or slicing the long rounded food into small and bite-sized pieces.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommended cutting "cylindrical-shaped food" at least 1/2 inch or smaller for toddlers. It must be sliced lengthwise first and then cut up into smaller pieces. Some experts also recommend removing the skin because it's tough to chew.

However, dieticians advise against eating hot dogs because this is processed meat that raises the risk of children developing type 2 diabetes. This popular summer food is also filled with nitrates and nitrites, or preservatives that have been linked to cancer.

An average 6-inch hot dog has about 150 calories, 21 percent sodium, and 26 percent saturated fats. In adults, this food raises their risk for heart disease or hypertension.

Other Choking Hazards for Kids

Aside from hot dogs, children under four years old should not be fed nuts and seeds, grapes, hard and sticky candy, popcorn, raisins, gum, and marshmallows. At an early age, toddlers should also be trained to sit in an upright position at the table when they are eating. They should also learn to focus on their food and not eat and talk at the same time.

Some parents allow their kids to walk or run around and do something else while chewing food in their mouths. There are also parents who let their kids eat inside the car, where a choking could go unnoticed since the mom or dad is driving.

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It is essential to supervise a toddler while eating as it can only take four minutes for choking to cause irreversible damage to a child.

However, emergencies can occur even with the most careful mother or father. It would be helpful for parents to learn how to do abdominal thrusts for toddlers. Following an incident, parents must also bring their child to the doctor for a proper assessment.

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