Reducing Choking Hazards for Small Children By Atlantic/Smith, Cropper & Deeley 6/1/2017 Choking occurs when the brain goes without oxygen for more than four minutes, causing brain damage and death, and is the leading cause of death in infants and toddlers. If you are the parent or guardian of a small child, it is your responsibility to protect your child from danger. Foods such as hot dogs, whole grapes, nuts, raisins, hard candies and popcorn can be potential choking hazards. Other choking hazards include household items such as latex balloons, coins, small toy parts and marbles. Protect your child from choking with the following tips: Mash foods so they can be chewed more easily. Instruct children to chew food before swallowing it. Make sure children sit upright while eating. Always supervise your child during mealtime. Do not give hard foods to children under the age of 4. Avoid giving children toys with small parts, and keep small household items out of reach. Make sure to also learn the Heimlich maneuver for infants, as the procedures for a choking infant are different from those of an adult. Learn the steps here.