Sometimes I Just Don’t Get It!!

19 Jun

My friend T (aka The Anesthesioboist) wrote a post recently about how working in medicine has yielded some ridiculous fears when it comes to her own child.  I can relate.  My worst fear has always been choking.  One of the worst cases I ever saw in the OR was a 2 year old who choked on a piece of chicken.   He did not survive.  Many, many times I have rushed a stat airway case into the OR so we could dig out various things from a kiddo’s lungs:  crayons, beans, balloon pieces, and worst of all, peanuts. 

Everyone knows, right, that you don’t give your kids peanuts until they’re AT LEAST 4 years old?  I’m serious.  They don’t have the teeth for it, and the pieces go down too big, and they’re just the right size to completely block the airway.  We even have a specific instrument in the OR called a peanut-grasper…only it rarely works.  If it seems like I’m trying to scare you, you’re right.  I am. 

So yesterday we’re at Sea World, and this sweet mom (read:  suburban yuppie mom) is next to me.  She has two little ones, a 4 year old and a 2 year old.  And it’s snacktime, so she gives the 4 year old a bag of fritos. I’m okay with that; it’s Sea World…live a little.  Then she hands her 2 year old a baggie of peanuts and raisins.  I almost keel over. 

Now I’m not the type of mom to get into other people’s business.  Goodness knows I’ve had enough “good advice” from strangers who don’t know what the HECK they’re talking about try to help me when mine gives me trouble in public.  So I didn’t say a word.  But I had to blog about it, because I assumed that every well-intentioned, well-read mom knew that YOU DON’T GIVE PEANUTS TO A TWO-YEAR OLD!!

These babies were slathered in sunscreen, wearing life-vests, and drinking water from personalized water bottles.  Clearly this mom was trying to do everything right.  And then in one swift move she handed her little one a baggie of DEATH. 

Can you tell I’m a bit passionate on this subject?  It’s only because I’ve seen the worst.  So please, PROMISE me that you won’t give your children peanuts.  Or crunchy peanut butter.  No, really, raise your right hand up from the mouse and say it with me:  “I solemnly swear to withhold peanuts from (insert name) until he(she) is at least 4 years old.”

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. 

UPDATE:  You can go to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) website to get more information on choking prevention. 


21 Responses to “Sometimes I Just Don’t Get It!!”

  1. Minivan mom June 19, 2008 at 9:46 am #

    Well, since my youngest and last child just turned 4, it’s easy to make this pledge…but no worries, my kids don’t eat peanuts (or crunchy peanut butter – we’re a smooth pb house) anyway.

    I will also throw out there that this Sea World mom was doing more wrong than just giving her 2 year old peanuts. Putting life jackets or floaties on kids as a measure of water safety (unless of course you are actually BOATING) goes right up this former lifeguard/swim instructor’s ass. I understand moms are trying to protect their kids, but you are seriously, SERIOUSLY, impeding the process of children actually LEARNING TO SWIM and be safe around the water. Many children drown or nearly drown due to a false sense of security in the water because they THINK they will just float or can “swim”. I used to lecture all my friends about doing it, but I gave up, because it’s such a widespread practice. I don’t get it. I had 3 kids in 4 years, and yes have always taken them swimming, and no have NEVER, EVER put a flotation device on them. Kids need to be taught to swim and vigilantly monitored in the water – not slapped with a false sense of security and an excuse for lazy parenting.

    There’s MY rant. 🙂

  2. Julie June 19, 2008 at 9:59 am #

    Scary about the peanuts…isn’t it such a hard line to draw about when it’s okay to step in and say something to another parent in public. I struggle with that so much- especially when I see a little one act up in public and watch the parent handle it with borderline child abuse- both physical and emotional. I mostly keep my mouth shut, but there has been a time or two where I’ve been the obnoxious butting in mom- hopefully in a nice, and maybe even humorous, kind of way.

    We promise to keep peanuts away from Luke until he’s at least four!

  3. that girl June 19, 2008 at 11:48 am #

    NO peanuts for us! I’ve never thought about that though..I would have been more scared of the fritos for some reason. Thanks for sharing.

  4. T. June 19, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    Hi, Katy – thanks for the mention! Just wanted to highlight, too, the reason peanuts should trigger a “red alert” reaction for us parents. To the best of my understanding, it’s not just that there’s a risk of obstructing the airway because of the presence of a foreign body; peanut oil can trigger an awful and potentially fatal pneumonitis: bad, bad, BAD. And as you mention, the peanut itself becomes difficult to extract once inhaled because it can become significantly mushier in the lung…

    Thanks for bringing attention to this!

  5. Lisa June 19, 2008 at 1:41 pm #

    Such a great post! My dad was a pulmonary doc and treated many, many little ones who had inhaled peanuts and required bronchoscopies to try (not always successfully) to retrieve them. He was adamant than no child in his house had peanuts till age 5. That went for his kids, his kids’ friends, and all the grand kids. I follow that rule too, after hearing his horror stories.

  6. meg June 19, 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    Thanks for the heads-up about the peanuts – although I was always more scared about giving my children peanut products of any sort (even smooth OR creamy PB) in public because of the widespread peanut allergy concern…. my children always end up covered in peanut butter from just a tiny amount of it and I would hate for them to come in contact with someone with a severe peanut allergy.

    On the choking topic – just how dangerous are raisins? My child’s MDO program no longer allows them saying they are choking hazards. (The reason given was that they would swell in the child’s throat if the child consumed liquid at the same time.)

  7. T June 19, 2008 at 2:45 pm #

    Katy, thanks for the mention!

    I am so glad you’re bringing attention to this important issue. I just wanted to mention, by way of reminder, the reason we parents should get in “red alert” mode over this, as you rightly emphasize. Peanuts can be deadly not only because they can cause airway obstruction if aspirated – whereupon, as you point out, they become difficult to extract because they get really mushy in the lung – but also because peanut oil can precipitate a terrible, potentially life-threatening pneumonitis, so even if the peanut gets out, a child could still be in grave danger afterward, with invasive measures like intubation and artificial ventilation not always able to restore gas exchange effectively / in time.

    Thank you for caring enough to write about this.

  8. Jenny June 19, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    Thanks for the reminder. My kids (3 and 1 1/2) have not had peanuts yet, and I promise to hold off until they’re at least 4.

    My big choking fear is with balloons. I heard a presentation once about balloons being one of the leading choking hazards. Kids have them up by their mouths and if they pop, the startled kid gasps and potentially inhales a little piece of balloon. At the HEB we go to, there is always a greeter at the door handing balloons out to kids. I always say no, but every once in a while, they’ll walk over and hand one to my kids when I have my head turned looking at produce. I’ll turn back around to see my 18 month old with the balloon up to her mouth. It freaks me out everytime!

  9. janemumey June 19, 2008 at 3:22 pm #

    I never did the peanut thing either….due to fear of allergies – but obviously did them a favor on the choking front also. I am freaking out this summer because I can’t get the kids to quit walking (and running sometimes) with popsicle sticks in the mouth. It is always something to not let me sleep at night.

  10. Traci Anne June 19, 2008 at 3:24 pm #

    Smooth peanut butter is okay though, right? My bf’s such a pb fan that I doubt our kid would escape their toddlerhood without peanut butter – I, however, only like it in the form of a) extra-crunchy (and rarely) or b) Reese’s. 🙂

  11. kathrynsmoore June 19, 2008 at 4:35 pm #

    I’m updating this post with a link to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) website which has more information about choking prevention in children. 🙂

  12. T June 19, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    katy – I guess there’s a bit of a time lag or something – sorry – looks like I double-commented on you! Please feel free to delete one of those. 🙂

  13. Amy Seay June 19, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    You just scared the crap out of me.

  14. Jessica June 19, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    Thank you! Just yesterday while at a ballgame I got the “you’re too overprotective” comments from my husband and other sitting around us because I WILL NOT let my 20 month old eat peanuts. This after they all laughed at me for cutting up a hot dog in to very small pieces. How in the world do people think it’s ok to let a small child eat something that is the same size and the hole in their throats. Laugh all you want people. I will never see that peanut grasper.

  15. totaltransformation June 19, 2008 at 6:16 pm #

    “So please, PROMISE me that you won’t give your children peanuts. Or crunchy peanut butter.”

    I do so solemnly swear. 😉

  16. Robin June 19, 2008 at 8:49 pm #

    is just peanuts or all nuts? Stupid questions I know but my two year old loves all nuts. just need some clarifying info.

  17. orpheusdescending June 20, 2008 at 3:43 am #

    I hate to ad other foods to the list but apples and carrots can be bad too. When I was 3 I aspirated a carrot, had my lungs vacuumed and spent a month in a plastic bubble. I’m almost 40 now, but I still can’t eat raw carrots, and anything that has a texture of little pieces makes it hard for me to swallow what’s in my mouth. I can’t swallow pills even to this day, and I have nightmares about choking every so often. Our family doctor told my mom not to give me or my younger brother apples or carrots until we were 5 and to never let us eat out of her sight (I was in the front yard when I breathed in my carrot so my mom didn’t see it happen). Luckily our next door neighbor was a fireman and new how to get me breathing enough to make it to the hospital, but I was pretty blue by then. Honestly, I have very little memory of the whole thing, but I won’t eat a carrot to this day, unless it comes in the form of cake.

  18. Andrea's Sweet Life June 20, 2008 at 11:27 am #

    We’re a smooth, all natural peanut butter family over here! My husband has a horrible habit of shoving as many peanuts in his mouth as possible, while standing in front of the pantry. Needless to say, my little one has found a peanut on more than one occasion. She hasn’t choked because I’ve always been RIGHT THERE, but DANG, that’s scary! Thanks for the reminder.

    Also, I’ve got a FREE CHOCOLATE giveaway going on over at my place:
    Enter to win some!

  19. Sara June 20, 2008 at 6:49 pm #

    Ok, so I consider myself a pretty informed parent and I have not ever heard about not giving peanuts to kids under 4 . I mean, I know about the whole allergy thing, but if your child is not allergic, I didn’t know not to give them peanuts until they are older. My son is almost 5 but he has always eaten peanuts and so have a lot of his friends. I’m so glad nothing every happened.

  20. GiGi June 26, 2008 at 11:42 pm #

    OK, I can’t help myself….Here is the handout we have given out in our Pediatric office for several years. It is based off of the one that is provided by Texas Children’s Hospital:
    There are answers to many of your readers questions regarding other foods here as well as info on other choking hazards:


    If children get food, small household items or toys caught in their throats or windpipes, they can choke and suffocate. Among children under age 1 who suffer injuries, choking causes the most deaths. Older children choke, too. Here are some simple things you can do to help protect your child.


    Many choking injuries involve food. Children under 4 do not have their molars and cannot chew well. They can easily choke on:

    Foods that swell when moist:

    Apples and pears: Chop apples and firm fruits into bite-size pieces or cook them until soft. Hard candies: Candies swallowed whole can block the airway. Not for children younger than 4 years. Popcorn: Popcorn is easy for kids to choke on. Not for children younger than 4 years old.

    Small, round, form foods that slip easily down the throat:

    Peanuts and other nuts: More children choke on peanuts than any other item. Do not give to children under 4 years old. Grapes: Cut grapes in half. Do not give raisins to children under 2. Two to 4 year olds can be given plump, moist raisins or those in pudding or bread. Take the pits out of cherries. Hot dogs: Cut a hot dog lengthwise at least once, then cut it crosswise. If you slice a hotdog into circles, the pieces still may be large enough to choke your child. Carrots: Shred carrots or cook them until mushy.

    Foods that are stringy or sticky:

    Celery: Remove the stringy outside layer of celery with a peeler. Cut up celery before serving. Peanut butter: The safest way to eat peanut butter is to spread a thin layer on bread. Serve it with a beverage .Never let children eat it off a spoon.

    Children of any age should sit down to eat. They should never walk around or lie down while eating.


    If chewing or bubble gum gets stuck in your child’s windpipe, it can be very serious. Do not let children chew gum while jumping rope, running, playing on a swing set or trampoline, climbing or playing sports like baseball and basketball. Anytime a child chewing gum falls or is bounced around, he or she could inhale the gum.


    Balloons are fun while they are inflated. But a rubber or latex balloon that has not been blown up, or one that has popped, can be deadly. Many children want to chew balloons because they are attracted by the texture, smell and bright color. But if even a small piece is inhaled, it can make a child choke. Once it is in the windpipe, a piece of balloon is very hard to get out. The Heimlich maneuver or slapping on the back may not work. Balloons can be dangerous for all children. Even older children choke on balloons. One out of four children who have choked on balloons have been older than 5.

    To protect your child: Buy silvery Mylar balloons instead, Do not let a young child blow up a balloon, Do not let your child put a balloon in his or her mouth, Always supervise children playing with balloons.


    Some toys and small pieces from toys are hazards for small children. Use these tips:

    1) In shopping for toys or stuffed animals, make sure there are no small parts that can be removed or might come off.

    2) Check age level on toys. Do not give your son or daughter a toy made for an older child, no matter how much he or she wants it. The toy may have small parts or pieces that could cause your child to choke.

    3) Many fast-food restaurants offer toys with their children’s meals. If your child is under 3, ask for the special toy that is available for children in this age group.

    4) Watch out for coins, small balls and marbles. Be very careful that small children cannot get hold of items less than 1 ¼ inches across. (A toilet paper roll is ahandy guide. Items small enough to easily go through it could be dangerous.)


    No one expects his or her child to choke, but it is good to be prepared for an emergency. The American Red Cross, YMCA and the American Heart Association offer classes in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.


  1. Social Media guru, Megan Cole, sits down with Loaded Bow « Loaded Bow - June 19, 2008

    […] so that search engines love you.  For example, a quick visit to WordPress reveals a post titled Somtimes I Just Don’t Get It!!.  It’s a great post about the perils of preventing your child from choking on peanuts, […]

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