Kid's health

At What Age Should You Stop Cutting Hot Dogs?

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: August 2, 2020
At What Age Should You Stop Cutting Hot Dogs?

Young kids have undeveloped swallowing systems, narrow airways and immature teeth. These factors put them at higher risks of choking on objects. According to a report, a child’s airway has a very narrow diameter, almost the size of his or her pinky. So, high risk foods, like grapes, hot dogs and berries, can block their airways and prevent them from breathing. Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in children under five years of age in New York State[1]. In terms of eating, the best way to prevent choking is to cut the food into tiny pieces, so that it can pass through the child’s airways easily. But at what age should you stop cutting hot dogs? Read this oneHOWTO article for more information.

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  1. What makes hot dogs a choking hazard?
  2. How to prevent choking on hot dogs
  3. How to cut up hot dogs for a toddler
  4. Until what age should you cut up hot dogs
  5. How to help a choking child

What makes hot dogs a choking hazard?

Hot dogs are delicious, savory and appetizing, but they have recently caught attention of pediatricians across the world. They have gained a bad reputation for being choking hazards to small kids. While hot dogs are one of the common causes of choking, similar food such as nuts, grapes and hard candies are equally dangerous. Experts say that kids have very narrow airways and almost any food can choke them, but hot dogs have just the right consistency and size to block them. When this happens, it plugs the airways and does not allow air to pass through. Therefore, pediatricians recommend mincing or thinly slicing hot dogs before serving to a child.

How to prevent choking on hot dogs

Hog dogs are slippery and are the perfect size to block a little child’s windpipe. More than 10,000 kids are sent to hospital due to choking alone and 13 kids die every year on an average for the same reason. Here are a few steps that can be taken to prevent choking on hot dogs:

  • The most important step is to put a choking hazard label on the packaging of hot dogs. It should be mandatory to put such label, so that parents get a warning that they need to be careful. In New York JT's Law exists to provide a warning for those types of food which can cause choking. It stems from the death of a child from choking on a hot dog at the age of three[2].
  • Another step is to keep your children away from hot dogs. Hot dogs are not healthy, so why give them to your little one and put him or her at such a big risk. Your child may be better off eating a hot dog once his or her swallowing systems develops fully as does their overall health.
  • Whenever your children are eating, let them sit down on their table and eat. Children usually cannot concentrate on doing two things at once. Don’t let them watch TV or play while eating. They will also get distracted if they are eating yet walking around at the same time. You should always sit with your kids while they are eating, so that you can keep watch on how they get on. A child can choke to death in as little as 60 seconds. And while your child is choking, they will not be able to call you out to you either. So, it’s always better to be safe now than sorry later.
  • If you are so keen to give hot dogs to your kids, and you don’t want to keep them away from such a delicious treat, then make sure that you cut it into small pieces. Cutting a hot dog into small pieces can make them pass through the windpipe even if your child happens to swallow them whole.

How to cut up hot dogs for a toddler

Cutting up hot dogs for your child should happen to at least the age of three. However, many pediatricians recommend cutting it safely up to four years of age. The primary reason is that a typical hot dog has the perfect diameter and size to block the little windpipes of small kids and cause choking problem. Fortunately, cutting a hot dog safely for your kid can be done in less than a minute. To do so, follow these step by step instructions:

  • Place the hot dog on a cutting board.
  • Hold the hot dog vertically and cut off its skin.
  • Once you have done that, cut the remaining part into four more vertical sized long strips.
  • Now take one strip at a time and cut it into tiny pea-sized cubes. We prefer cube size, because little kids can easily feel cubes in their mouth, find their location and have better control over them. If you pick it up between your fingers, you will yourself find that picking up cubes is a lot easier than picking up a piece of whole slippery hot dog.
  • Make sure that the cubes are small enough to pass through the windpipe even if the child happens to swallow it whole.
  • If your kid wants to play with the strips and prefers them over the cubes, then you can cut them halfway through the edges. When your child tries to play with the strip, it will cut off automatically and your child will be left with a small sized piece in his or her mouth.
At What Age Should You Stop Cutting Hot Dogs? - How to cut up hot dogs for a toddler

Until what age should you cut up hot dogs

Young kids below 3 years of age are at high risk of food choking, because a full set of teeth is not yet developed. They are unable to grind their food properly before swallowing. After 3 years, they develop molars, but they are still new to chewing, so you should still cut it to prevent any risk. A child’s level of activity also determines whether you should still cut hot dogs or not. Hyper-active children have higher risk of inhaling food while running around or playing.

How to help a choking child

Even after taking all these measures, if your child happens to choke on a hot dog, here are the steps you need to take immediately:

  • For children less than one year old, turn them face down on your lap or forearm, support the head by holding their jaw and make sure that the head is lower than their chest. Use the heel of the other hand to deliver a few quick slaps between the child’s shoulder blades. If the child cannot breathe, try doing some chest thrusts. Turn the child’s face up while keeping their head lower than the chest. Keep two fingers at the middle of their chest and push five times. Repeat with chest thrusts and back blows until you can see the stuck hot dog. Now, you can remove it carefully using your fingers or a caliper.
  • For children more than 1 year old, stand behind the child and put your arms around his or her waist. Use one hand to make a fist, place the thumb side near your child’s stomach right above the belly button. Make sure that the thumb is lower than the rib cage. Grasp your fist with the other hand and thrust upward and inward quickly. You may also alternate these thrusts with back slaps, as it will be helpful in dislodging the stuck hot dog. If your child is not responding, perform CPR.
  • To perform CPR, let the child lay on a flat surface on his or her back. Kneel beside him or her and give 30 quick compressions on the chest. Make sure that the compressions are smooth and not jerky. Compressions should be given at the rate of 2 per second. Perform CPR for 2 minutes, call their name and check if you get any response. If they are not yet responding, you need to rush to the hospital and let a professional take over.

These are the basics, but even our description is nothing compared to a medical professional showing you how to act in this emergency situation. If there is someone nearby who knows what to do, it is recommended they take care of the situation.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to At What Age Should You Stop Cutting Hot Dogs?, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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At What Age Should You Stop Cutting Hot Dogs?