Baby with hands in mouth
Unsplash | Troy T

Mother Warns Others Of 'Easily Missed' Choking Hazard Parents Should Know

Being a parent to a little one means always thinking one step ahead. 

You have to be aware of any possible dangers that your young child could get themselves into, such as electrical outlets, sharp objects, and dangerous chemicals. 

Another big one is choking hazards. Many parents aren’t aware of all the different choking hazards that are out there, which is why one mom is looking to change that. 

Meet Nikki Jurcutz. 

She’s a mom of two and an advanced life support paramedic. 

She’s also CEO of the Australian parenting organisation Tiny Hearts Education, where she has made it her mission to educate parents about the basics of keeping children safe. 

The number one question she gets from new parents is about choking hazards. 

Baby with toy in mouth
Unsplash | Colin Maynard

In order to help parents determine whether the items they give their children are safe (mainly foods), she created a set of rules for them to follow. 

Number 1 is the “squish test.”

Squishing food
Giphy |

This is just like it sounds — you simply pinch the food between your pointer fingers and thumb. "This mimics the pressure of a toothless little one's gums," Nikki wrote on the Tiny Hearts website.

"If the food squishes easily, it means it's safe and bub will be able to chew," she continued.

Baby eating food
Giphy | Karing for Postpartum

“If it doesn't squish easily, you should cook, grate or mash it, so that it becomes soft enough to pass the test.”

The second rule is what's called the "choke check hack."

Nikki using the choke hand test
instagram | @tinyheartseducation

By dropping various items, such as a cherry, popcorn, and toys, through a hole that you create with your index finger and thumb, you'll be able to see if something is suitable for your young one.

"The circle is approximately the size of a child's airway aged 0-3," she explained.

Baby eating spaghetti
Unsplash | Harry Grout

"If anything can fit in this hole, then it's a choking hazard." The third test the paramedic uses is the "consistency test." She has found that round, slippery and firm items are more likely to cause choking.

"Think grapes, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, nuts, raw carrot, apple, popcorn, chewing gum, coins, marbles and batteries," she said.

Baby eating pizza
Giphy | JustViral

"The greater the roundness, firmness or slipperiness of an object, the greater the choking risk," she added. Eliminating the risk of choking means modifying the food.

For instance, cutting grapes into quarters or lengthways to make them less round.

Baby food modified
instagram | @tinyheartseducation

Or, rolling avocado in fine breadcrumbs to make it less slippery and cooking carrots to make them less firm. Finally, she advises that parents suprervise children when eating and ensure that they are seated safely and securely.

Even with her tips, there are still some choking hazards parents might not expect.

Orange balloon
Unsplash | Avinash Kumar

In a recent TikTok video, she pointed out how balloons, a seemingly “fun” party decoration, can turn deadly in seconds. 

“I hosted a birthday party recently and I was cleaning up and found this part of a balloon..." she said in a video.

"These are massive choking hazards and you need to be super careful around balloons,” she continued.

Nikki holding up a balloon piece
TikTok | @tinyheartseducation

“As you can imagine trying to do back blows to get this up when it's stuck would be near impossible. So be super vigilant."

Parents were shocked that they hadn't thought of it.

"The things I've never thought about," one user wrote.

You can check out more of Nikki's life-saving tips on her Instagram at @tinyheartseducation or on TikTok by the very same name.