Imagine this scenario…your children are chomping away on their snacks while you are driving down the highway. All of a sudden, you hear one of your children coughing loudly and your other child starts yelling that something is wrong. What can you possibly do to help your choking child from behind the steering wheel in a moving car?
So many of us are rushing around and don’t think twice about giving our children food to snack on in the car. Have you ever stopped to think if this is a safe thing to do? I was shocked to find out the dangers associated with young children eating in the car.
Why Eating In The Car Is Risky Business
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choking is the leading cause of injury and death among children, especially children three years old and younger. Often times parents don’t even realize their child is choking unless they are looking directly at them, which is difficult to do while you are driving.
When a child is choking, every second counts. If you are driving, the situation can get very dangerous as you have to decide how to safely pull over the car. You may be faced with having to cross several lanes of moving traffic to stop on the shoulder and then get out of the car as other cars are whizzing by. You would certainly be putting your family and other drivers at risk.
Additionally, Consumer Reports warns parents about the dangers of passing a snack to your child while driving because drivers tend to turn the steering wheel when reaching backward, which could lead to an accident. Another consideration is that children are secured tightly in their car seats, making it even harder to help them if they are choking because you will first have to unbuckle them.
The best advice—which the experts agree on—is to avoid giving your children food in the car altogether. You can avoid your children melting down and begging for something to eat by allowing time for snacking before you get in the car. Also, plan a few minutes to stop in a safe place during your trip for a bite to eat.
Safe Snacking Tips
If you do choose to feed your children in the car, please consider the following important guidelines:
- Avoid foods that are considered choking hazards for young children. Such foods do not dissolve in the mouth, are unable to be mashed by the gums, and can be easily sucked into the windpipe. Examples include raw carrots, cherry tomatoes, popcorn, nuts, whole grapes, dried fruit, hard candy, hot dogs, pretzels, chips, marshmallows, and chunks of meat and cheese.
- Cut before your serve. Instead of giving your children foods that are difficult to eat in whole form, cut or break them into smaller pieces. Also encourage your children to chew slowly and thoroughly.
- Try food pouch snacks. This snack option is easy for your child to maneuver and will hold them over until the next stop when you can feed them a more filling snack. These pouches come in a variety of healthy options, from apple sauces to yogurts to fruit and vegetable mixes.
There and additional ways that you can avoid a choking crisis in the car.
- Avoid highway driving. It is much easier to find a safe place to pull over if you are driving on local roads as opposed to congested highways.
- Drive in the right lane. By sticking to the far right lane, you are more prepared to stop the car in an emergency.
- Have an adult sit in the back seat. If you are on a road trip and know you will need to feed your kids, have another adult sit in the back of the car with the children if possible.
- Be prepared for an emergency. Take a course in basic first aid and CPR that includes information on choking incidents and how to respond to them. Your local American Red Cross chapter offers these types of classes.