Urgent warning to parents over common snacks – and the 3-word mantra that could save your kid's life | The Sun

Urgent warning to parents over common snacks – and the 3-word mantra that could save your kid's life | The Sun

July 27, 2023

SOME commons snacks are very easy for your little one to choke on, a paramedic has shared.

They include red flag items many parents might already be aware of, such as nuts, popcorn and hard candy.

But foods like hot dogs and cucumbers might also put your little ones at risk, Nikki Jurcutz from Tiny Hearts Education has warned.

But that doesn't mean you need to stop feeding your child these foods altogether – at least not all of them.

The former paramedic who heads the child and baby first aid page said there's a simple mantra parents should keep in mind when it comes to their child's food: "Chop it, swap it, stop it."

They should first ask themselves whether they can modify a food by cutting into a smaller or into a safer shape.

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The 'chop it' category includes:

  • Hotdogs and frankfurters
  • Cucumber
  • Meat

In a video accompanying the post to Tiny Heart's Instagram page, Nikki also showed how she split a banana length-ways into three pieces to make it easier for little ones to chew.

Foods that fit into the 'swap it' category include:

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  • Marshmallows
  • Whole nuts

Nikki suggested swapping these for a safer alternative.

In the video, the paramedic showed how she switched out the larger marshmallows for smaller ones, and the nuts for nut butter.

The 'stop it' category applied to food that "it’s not safe for your little one", Nikki said.

"You’ll need to avoid giving it to them until they develop mature chew and swallow abilities," she went on.

  • Hard candy/lollies
  • Popcorn
  • Bubble gum

What to do if your child chokes

The NHS says that if you can see an object lodged in your child’s mouth, you should take extreme care to remove it because blindly poking at it could make things worse.

If the child is coughing, encourage them to continue to do so as they may be able to bring the object up.

But never leave them unattended while they do this.

If the coughing isn’t effective (it is silent or they cannot breathe properly), shout for help immediately.

If the child is still conscious, use back blows. 

First aiders at St John Ambulance give the following advice based on the child’s age.


  1. Slap it out:
  • Lay the baby face down along your thigh and support their head  
  • Give five back blows between their shoulder blades  
  • Turn them over and check their mouth each time  

2. Squeeze it out:

  • Turn the baby over, face upwards, supported along your thigh 
  • Put two fingers in the centre of their chest just below the nipple line; push downwards to give up to five sharp chest thrusts 
  • Check the mouth each time  

3. If the item does not dislodge, call 999 or 112 for emergency help  

  • Take the baby with you to call  
  • Repeat the steps one and two until help arrives 
  • Start CPR if the baby becomes unresponsive (unconscious)  


1. Cough it out  

  • Encourage the casualty to keep coughing, if they can 

2. Slap it out  

  • Lean them forwards, supporting them with one hand 
  • Give five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades 
  • Check their mouth each time but do not put your fingers in their mouth  

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3. Squeeze it out  

  • Stand behind them with your arms around their waist, with one clenched fist between their belly button and the bottom of their chest 
  • Grasp the fist in the other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards, giving up to five abdominal thrusts 
  • Check their mouth each time  

Signs your baby is choking

There are a few signs to look out for to tell if your baby is choking.

According to St John Ambulance, a choking baby may:

  • be unable to breathe, cry, or cough
  • have a red puffy face
  • show signs of distress

But a child might:

  • have difficulty breathing, speaking or coughing
  • have a red puffy face
  • show signs of distress and they may point to their throat or grasp their neck

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