Skip to content

Safe Feeding Practices to Prevent Choking 

Institute of Child Nutrition

January 10, 2023

A small blond girl coughing with her mouth open while her father pats her on the back to dislodge any food that may have gone down her throat.

Choking while eating can happen quickly and be very scary. Children 0-4years old are at the greatest risk of choking because they may not chew food properly. Want to make eating safer for young children in your care? Our partners at the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) have some great resources on how to decrease choking risks. 

Three Key Methods to Prevent Choking 

  1. Know which foods are the most common causes of choking.
  2. Select and modify foods to the appropriate size, shape, and texture.
  3. Supervise children during mealtime.

Foods That May Cause Choking and How to Modify Them 


Mealtime Behaviors to Encourage 

Children and adults should be attentive and focused during mealtimes to lower the risk of choking. Talk with children about prover mealtime behaviors before they sit down for a meal. Some tips include: 

  • Only provide food at a table or high chair. 
  • Allow plenty of time for meals and snacks. 
  • Encourage children to chew foods slowly and thoroughly before swallowing 
  • Teach children not to talk or laugh while chewing. 
  • Have children sit upright at the table while eating. 
  • Do not allow children to walk or run while eating. 
  • Always stay in the room with the children. 
  • Keep mealtimes calm and quiet. 
  • Reduce distractions. 
  • Model safe eating behaviors like eating small portions and taking only one bite at a time. 
  • While serving infants, do not prop the bottle for the baby to feed themselves. 

To read more, check out ICN’s mealtime memo!