This X-ray image is terrifying and once you see it, you won’t be able to forget the danger some foods can cause for little kids. Some solid foods are choking hazards for smaller throats; if you don’t cut grapes and cherry tomatoes in half, there is the potential for the food to block your child’s airway.
An Australian blogger named Angela Henderson posted the X-ray image of a grape lodged in the throat of a 5-year old boy on her Facebook page, along with the reminder for adults to cut grapes and tomatoes in half. Although the boy’s airway was not completely closed off, doctors couldn’t get the grape out with first aid and had to operate to extract it.
Henderson noted that the mother of the little boy gave her permission to post the image as a warning to other parents. She added, “This sweet soul had to be operated on, under general anesthetic to remove the grape. He is VERY lucky that part of his airway was open or else this could have ended badly.”
It feels both scary and over-the-top at the same time, right? If these foods are so dangerous, why do we let kids eat them at all? We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for kids, but sometimes it’s hard to get kids to eat them, so if they like grapes and tomatoes, then they should eat those healthy foods.
At the same time, little ones are still learning how to eat. When they get distracted, they might rush through eating and swallow their food without completely chewing it. (Let’s face it, some adults still eat that way, too.) Small, round foods, especially those that are smooth and a little slippery, are easy to swallow without chewing. That combination is a food-related choking incident waiting to happen.
Henderson’s Facebook posts says, “So please be mindful that not all kids chew their food, are in a rush at school to get in the playground etc.”
Research backs up the idea that we need to be more careful when we feed certain foods to children. Hot dogs, hard candy, and grapes are the top three common causes of obstructed airways and choking in young children; when kids get these foods lodged in their throats, it can easily cause death or severe injury.
In fact, doctors note that because only emergency situations, like the young boy in the X-ray image, get public attention, there are more incidents that we don’t hear about.
Health professionals recommend one simple action to cut the risk of your child choking. All it takes on the part of an adult is a few extra minutes to cut grapes and small tomatoes in half.
You should also know how to cut grapes the right way. Cut them lengthwise (from top to bottom, creating an oval) instead of across the middle of the grape (which keeps the grape in a shape that can get stuck in a throat). For cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, it’s best to quarter them (cut them in half and then cut the pieces in half again).
There’s even a kitchen hack that makes it super easy to cut a bunch of grapes or tomatoes at the same time. Simply place the food on a plate or cutting board (make sure the grapes are laying lengthwise) and cover the food with a large plastic lid or another plate. Hold the lid or plate firmly in place and use a serrated knife to carefully slice through the food.
This one simple trick can cut the choking risk for children. It may seem like extra trouble, but as Henderson says in her Facebook post, “Please be careful. And when in doubt just cut the damn grapes, baby tomatoes etc.”