Preventing suffocation and choking

Essential information to rememberWhen young children choke, it’s usually on small everyday objects and food..

Photo: Pascale Turcotte

Small objects

Young children tend to put everything they touch in their mouth. Small objects can be swallowed easily and cause choking. It is best to keep them out of your child’s reach.

Recommended by the Canadian Paediatric SocietyThe Canadian Paediatric Society advises that if an object can fit in a toilet paper roll, it represents a choking hazard.

Some types of food can also become lodged in your child’s throat or block her airways. Read Choking risk: Be extra careful until age 4 for more information.

Your child can also suffocate on objects (like a plastic bag), that risk covering her mouth and nose preventing her from breathing. It is a good idea to put a knot in used plastic bags before storing them out of the reach of children or putting them in the recycling bin or the garbage.

Information to which you should pay special attentionLatex balloons are dangerous for young children because they can choke on them. Make sure balloons (both inflated and uninflated) and pieces of popped balloon are always kept out of children’s reach.


Caution must also be exercised with hanging cords and toys, like mobiles. Cords on clothing, curtains, and toys should be no longer than 20 cm (around 8 in.).

Airway: Passages through which the air we breathe enters and leaves the body.