Reduce choking hazards of food
In general, some foods should not be provided to young children under five years of age, including konjac (hard) jellies, glutinous rice balls, fish balls, chewing gum, marshmallows, hard or sticky candies, ice cubes, whole nuts, and peanut butter and nut spreads to be consumed directly without spreading.
Measures that can be taken to reduce the choking risk of certain foods consumed by young children:
- Cut hard vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, etc.) into narrow sticks;
- Cut large or firm fruits (melons, apples, etc.) into slices;
- Soften fruits and vegetables by cooking or mashing;
- Peel the skins of fruits and vegetables;
- Cut small fruits (grapes, cherries, berries, cherry tomatoes, etc.) into quarter pieces;
- Check for fragments of pips or stones when preparing fruits;
- Remove the skin of sausages and slice them thinly; and
- Cut breads into thin strips.
Safe eating habits
- Make sure babies and young children are alert and sitting up straight in a high chair or a low chair that is appropriate for their height while they eat. Avoid talking or running around.
- Babies and young children should always be watched while they eat in order to spot the first signs of choking and stop it from getting worse.
- Help babies and young children chew their food well. Teach them how to chew and swallow food the right way, and make sure they eat slowly.
Caregivers should also know what to do if a child is choking. The Primary Healthcare Office of the Health Bureau has published an advice on basic handling of choking in children (available in Chinese only). For children suffering from swallowing difficulties due to certain medical conditions, special dietary arrangements should be made to reduce the risk of choking. Please seek medical advice from a speech therapist or other equivalent experts.