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Old 05-13-2011, 01:26 PM   #1
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Cutting up food for kiddos?

I had a scare with DD yesterday morning. I got her some cereal, something similar in size and shape to cheerios. I thought she'd like the cereal I was eating, Quaker Oatmeal Squares, but I thought "they're a bit hard to chew, so rather than feeding her a whole bowl, I'll just tossed a few in with her cereal." I'm not sure what I was thinking. Well, I wasn't. I guess that's the point. I gave her hers and turned my back long enough to pour myself a bowl of cereal. Just as I finished she made a strange noise. I turned around and her face was bright red. I rushed over to her, she seemed to be getting some air out since she was making some noise, so I started hitting her on the back. Then she stopped making noise and started gagging. Her lips started turning purple. I started to pick her up, prepared to start the heimlich (thank goodness I took that infant/child cpr class, or I'd have had no idea how to do it on her), when she coughed violently and a whole oatmeal square popped out. She started to cry and I knew she was ok. I calmed her down, fished out the squares from her cereal, and she seemed to have no trouble finishing the cereal, and then some cheese and cereal to boot. After breakfast I called my mom and when I told her, it really sunk in and it was my turn to cry.

I've always been a little less cautious in my parenting than some, but this was stupid and reckless, even for me. I confess, I usually think of her ability to chew something when I'm deciding whether or not to/how small to cut something up more than choking hazards. I do cut up large grapes, and for things like carrots, celery, and cucumber, I cut them into sticks that are too small around to choke on. We don't really eat hot dogs, but if we did, I'd cut them in half lengthwise. We don't give her hard candies. Other than that (the basic list of choking hazards that any pediatrician's office has), I really only cut up anything I consider a finger food if I think she'll have trouble chewing them otherwise. She eats apples and bananas whole (though I watch her closely as she gets close to the core of the apple), orange segments, pieces of chicken... I realize that any of these things could pose a choking hazard of she took too big of a bite, but where do you draw the line?

What did/do you do with your kids/grandkids? Do you cut everything into pieces so small they can't possibly be a choking hazard? For those who do, when and how do your children learn to eat like adults? I realize that there are a lot of different views on this, and there's really no right or wrong answer. I've seen parents at the restaurant give toddlers whole chicken tenders, while other parents cut up their 4-year-old's grilled cheese sandwich. I'm just wondering what some of the other parents here do, and why they choose to do it.

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Old 05-13-2011, 02:00 PM   #2
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Very scary. I'm glad everyone is OK.

I had a similar experience with our oldest daughter sucking a piece of zwieback of the main piece and choking on that. We got it out OK.

This may have been a problem because the two shapes/textures were mixed together so she didn't know to handle it differently. I don't know the cereal or how big the pieces are.

That very same daughter cuts up foods for her 4.5 YO son. She was sure to inform me that hot dogs are the #1 choking food for kids.

You can't relax for a minute.
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Old 05-13-2011, 04:42 PM   #3
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You are right - there is no right or wrong answer. You'll just have to pay attention until you are confident she chews her food enough. (does she have teeth, does she use them?)

I've heard from my boys, their father used to cut up my 12 year old's food on his plate--his older brothers just rolled their eyes.....what was next? Chew his food for him and spit it in his mouth like he was a baby bird? It's all a matter of degree and whether it makes sense or not. I was the strict parent and expected him to cut up his own food, meanie me.

I know of a 40 year old that doesn't like to eat anything that hasn't been ground before, so no steak, just hamburger and sausage. No chicken, only chicken nuggets, no hardboiled eggs, only egg salad. He didn't like chewing fresh vegetables either. There was nothing wrong with his teeth, his parents just brought him up that way and chewing was too much trouble. Maybe they thought it would save him energy?

Sure, it's a good idea to be aware of the foods and sizes of food a child is eating, and pay attention as best a parent can. It's just not possible to have it work out perfect in every bite. (good job on having the heimlich training!)

Haven't each of us choked at least once in the past year or so? I had water go down the wrong pipe yesterday when I was quickly gulping some......I just needed to slow down. Children sometimes get so hungry they just want to swallow and not chew. You'll be able to teach her that in time. You're a good mom to care and you do pay attention.

Chew your food 32 times........ummm, I usually don't. I don't count the chews either. Bad me.
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Old 05-14-2011, 11:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
That very same daughter cuts up foods for her 4.5 YO son. She was sure to inform me that hot dogs are the #1 choking food for kids.

You can't relax for a minute.
Does he start school this fall? Do you know what she plans to do at that point? That's one of my biggest concerns. I know that at least in public school, and I would guess in private school also, that kids are expected to be able to feed themselves completely by the time they start school, including cutting up their own food if they get it at school. Is she planning on sending pre-cut lunches with him?

Bliss, yeah, she got her first teeth at 3 months and has had molars for about 9 months now, so she usually uses them pretty well. I think it was like Andy mentioned, the difference in the textures. She was eating something that didn't require much chewing, so she wasn't trying very hard.
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Old 05-14-2011, 01:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprout View Post
Does he start school this fall? Do you know what she plans to do at that point? That's one of my biggest concerns. I know that at least in public school, and I would guess in private school also, that kids are expected to be able to feed themselves completely by the time they start school, including cutting up their own food if they get it at school. Is she planning on sending pre-cut lunches with him?

Bliss, yeah, she got her first teeth at 3 months and has had molars for about 9 months now, so she usually uses them pretty well. I think it was like Andy mentioned, the difference in the textures. She was eating something that didn't require much chewing, so she wasn't trying very hard.

He won't be starting kindergarten until 9/12. She doesn't cut all his food into bite sized pieces. Veggies get cut into pieces that he bites from and chews. Meats mostly are cut up. I assume she'll be backing off cutting up most of his food soon.
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Old 05-14-2011, 02:16 PM   #6
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I'm afraid you can never be too careful.
Years ago, when my daughter was quite young, I was rolling bread loaves in my restaurant one morning. I used to cut a small piece of dough and give it to my daughter with a bit of flour and a small rolling pin, some cookie cutters and such. While I was working away, my daughter was licking up flour off of her hands. I took no notice. All of a sudden I noticed her gagging. She had injested enough flour and it mixed with her saliva and formed a wad or plug in the back of her throat. It wasnt something I could get out with the heimlich because it was a sticky blob. I had to stick my finger down there and start to pick away at it until I could break it up a little so she could get a bit of air through there. We were afraid to have her drink because it may mix with with the bolus and reform the occlusion. We eventually got it broken up enough to let her have a few drinks of water and after coughing, hacking and some barfing we sorted it out. It was a very tense few minutes. Probably the most traumatic I have had in my life.
You never know when or how...
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Old 05-14-2011, 03:44 PM   #7
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my kids never choked on food. however my son swallowed two pennies. they were glued together in an off set fashion. had to hook with my finger and pull out. i don't remember when i stopped cutting their food up. way to long ago. our lily is not quite two, has a full set of teeth. i break food up for her but she is really good at using those teeth.
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Old 05-14-2011, 05:35 PM   #8
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I had a scare when I was a teen with a child I was babysitting, her Mom was letting her eat Peanut M&M's. They hadn't left yet and neither of her parents knew what to do when she started choking. I grabbed her and held her upside down, whomped her on the back a few times and she coughed them out. Meanwhile, her older brother was hitting me, telling me to stop beating up his baby sister. I've been her Godmother ever since!

I think as long as babies and toddlers are not chewing off choking sized pieces, it's fine to let them gnaw on big pieces, it's when they start biting off chunks you need to watch them. It happens and no one is to blame. What's important is knowing what to do when it happens.
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:33 PM   #9
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I choked on a piece of steak when I was young. My mother was a surgical R.N. She had a knife in one hand as made me do a handstand. Luckily, the steak piece came out when I did the handstand, otherwise, I think she would have done a trach on me on the dinner room table.
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Old 05-15-2011, 11:37 AM   #10
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Wow.. scary stories here..
I choked on a hot dog at my aunts house when I was about 8 or 9 - they are a bunch of clueless apes and I had to get it out myself.
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