Safe feeding methods pushed after infant death

National Center for Child Safety and Health after 14- month-old baby chokes to death.

November 14, 2011 04:08
2 minute read.
Baby in crib 521

Baby in crib 521. (photo credit: MCT)

The tragic death of a 14- month-old baby girl last week after choking on food given to her in a private day-care center in Ariel has led Beterem – the National Center for Child Safety and Health – to remind adults how to avoid such tragedies.

Beterem director Orly Silbinger said Sunday that round, hard, slippery, sticky, large and spongy foods are the most dangerous for ingestion by children under the age of five.

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Liel Vasilevitzky, the victim, who had a mild cold, was fed by the caregiver and began to choke. She quickly lost consciousness and her breathing and heartbeat stopped. A Magen David Adom ambulance team arrived and evacuated her to a hospital when she was in critical condition.

She later died. Liel was an only child, the daughter of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

The caregiver, who was in shock, was questioned by the police on suspicion of negligence.

Silbinger noted that until the age of five, children have difficulty swallowing solid food, which can enter the trachea instead of the esophagus.

Young children also swallow hard objects, which can be similarly dangerous. The cough reflex is also undeveloped at this age, so food and foreign objects cannot easily be coughed up, and a lack of teeth that grind causes pieces of food to remain too large when swallowed.

Terem Emergency Medical Centers recommend that young children be seated in a chair and buckled up when fed. They should not be allowed to run, play, laugh or cry while eating. Food should be cut into small pieces and children should be encouraged to chew well. Always supervise children while they eat.

If feeding your children hot dogs, always cut them lengthwise and then into small slices. Hard vegetables and fruits such as carrots and apples should be cut into small pieces or cooked and then mashed. Small pieces of fruit and vegetables such as grapes or cherry tomatoes must be cut into two. Chicken or meat should be be cut into chewable pieces, without skin or bones. Fish must also have no bones. Olive pits need to be removed, with the fruit cut into small pieces – never given as whole olives.

Kids under five should never be given nuts, popcorn, seeds, raisins, hard candy (including a lollipop on a stick) or peanut butter liable to have peanut chunks. Under three years, children should not receive chewing gum, marshmallows, toffee, M&M-type filled candies or jellybeans.

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