This instructable will detail some several very simple methods to prevent choking in children.
Credentials: I have been an active EMT for 10+ years, and I teach CPR and First Aid through the American Heart Association. I have unfortunately had too many experiences with choking children, and the #1 way to change this is to PREVENT IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Numbers: An average of 1 child in the USA dies from choking every 5 days, and about 75% of choking deaths in the USA happens to children under 3 years old. Let's help decrease these numbers with some basic education.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement along these lines with a guide to help prevent choking. This instructable is a simplified version of their guideline.
Note: Pix used are not my own and are taken from public domain.
Step 1: Why Children Choke
A child's "windpipe" (properly called the trachea) is proportionately much smaller than that of an adult, and can be blocked off much more easily.
Many children also engage in other risk factors.
1) Run around while eating
2) Do not chew well without reminders
3) Eat foods that are improperly sized
4) Play with or are around toys/objects that are not appropriate for their age
5) Speak with food in the mouth
Step 2: Preventing Choking
Some easy tips to help prevent a child from choking are:
1) Ensure that while a child is eating, he/she remain seated.
2) Reminders every so often (depending on the needs and awareness of the child) to chew their food "all the way"
3) Keep objects that are not appropriately sized away from children (ie button-type batteries, coins, screws, small toys, and ESPECIALLY latex balloons). Latex balloons are extremely difficult to remove from the throat because they conform to the shape of the throat and stick there due to the texture. I do not know how they are even legal in the USA anymore. Mylar (helium) balloons cost more, but every child is well worth the price.
4) Remind children to speak only after they have swallowed.
5) Properly cut food. Hot dogs and grapes are the most commonly choked on foods. The way to properly cut foods like that are twice down the length (quartered) and then cut into pieces.
Other foods that are sticky like peanut butter or jelly can be difficult for a little mouth to manipulate. They should be spread thin and the child should be offered drink in between mouthfuls.
6) Lastly, it cannot be overstated enough that young children should be supervised while eating. Adults may pick up on things that children may not.
I hope this instructable helps. I know it is simple, but actually following these steps can save a life!