So you have your toddler perfectly strapped into their 5-point-harness Britax or whatever the Consumer Reports choice car seat of the month du jour happens to be. The harness is aligned midway on the sternum of the child and is has only one finger width space from the harness to the chest. You are parent extraordinaire! You know how to read a manual, Dagnabit!!
Cruising down the highway, you hear a strange wheeze/whistle coming from the back middle seat. You stretch your neck to peer into the rear view mirror, which is perfectly angled to catch the other mirror reflecting your backward facing two year-old straining to cough – changing from a red faced child to purple to…
SCREECH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Crossing three lanes of traffic, veering to the highway shoulder while coming to a complete stop in a record 2.5 seconds, you unlatch your seat belt and hurdle the driver’s seat to find your precious child choking! You didn’t leave any choking hazards for your youngster. You are “Super Parent” – able to scale minivan consoles in a single bound!
Nonetheless, there are five common choking hazards for restrained toddlers while their parent is driving. Most of us don’t think of these. Lord knows, I know I didn’t!
Ready? Now place your forehead on the screen to begin the osmosis process…
1) Pacifiers – Normally these suckers are what help your little one nod off to sleep on the open road; but if you have an inexpensive paci, or one your child has been able to pull at with their teeth, the nipple can pull away from the base and become a choking hazard. Sca-reeey!
2) Hair bows and barrettes – Parents of boys (you get a freebie on this one), unless you like to pin up your son’s Bieber bangs in the car. When kids are strapped in the car seat without anything to do, pulling on hair accessories and putting them in their mouths can be all fun and games until the airway is blocked! These little pretties cause many a minivan to swerve to the roadside. Luckily, parents usually hit the brakes so hard, the bows pop on out; but trust me – don’t chance it!
3) Snacks – I know giving your kid some Goldfish crackers in the shopping cart at the market is a lifesaver at any time of the day. Seven am? Goldfish snack in the produce aisle is a thing of beauty. But if baby is hollerin’ in the back seat on the way to the store, don’t give in and toss him a Ziploc of those delish cheddary, yet salty bait bites. Those are trachea plugs just waiting to happen and you don’t want that happening when you are in the drive-thru ordering your Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte, now do you?!
4) Chewing gum –Thankfully, I never had kids who were completely bald, and since I didn’t want to have to remove gum from their hair, I never gave them gum until they turned five years of age. Plus, I didn’t like the idea of them swallowing the stuff. (Just a personal choice, not the standard.) However, there are many parents who give their young kids gum and my medical advice is, “STOP IT, FOOL!” And please don’t give gum to kiddos in their car seat. Reclined. Toddlers. Will. Choke. On. Gum. Or maybe not…but that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
So there you have it! Four little tips which might help you from having palpitations on the roadways. Now you only have 56 additional baby vehicular dramas which can occur while hauling your most precious cargo around! Today, however, we are only tackling four.
Have a safe day; enjoy those toddlers and your Pumpkin Latte!
Need to know what to do if your child is choking? Check out the American Red Cross for answers.
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© 2012, Stacey Hatton. All rights reserved.