So when I heard about this announcement made by the American Academy of Pediatrics I felt a strong desire to talk to someone and because my kids really don't want to get into deep discussions with me, I thought I share my thoughts with you.
Basically, the AAP wants companies to redesign hot dogs, among other items that cause choking in children.
My answer to the problem of parents who fear their kids will choke would be: don't let them eat hot dogs.
Yes, bad things happen. Many bad things can happen to kids. However, the possibility of bad things happening can be curbed by awareness, being informed and using common sense. But even if all these occur, you cannot ward off all negative situations.
Dr. Gary Smith, the lead author of the policy statement says:
"There's a general recognition that more needed to be done to protect children from choking," according to Smith. "We have a number of laws and regulations that help prevent choking due to toys. There are no such similar regulations for food."
I think the major difference between having toys that kids can choke on and choke-able foods is that food is pretty plain and simple--if it is a certain size, it need to be cut down to bite-sized chunks; if it is difficult to chew, either cut it down to make it easier or just don't give it to a child; if its texture is such that it's too thick (i.e. peanut butter) only put a thin layer on a piece of bread or cracker. It comes down to common sense. With toys, it's completely different.
Toys come in all shapes and sizes, made with different types of materials and are geared toward certain age groups. I would imagine that I wouldn't find a toy aimed at infants 6-12 months that have pieces that a child might put in his or her mouth because that is a prime time for teething. An apple will always be an apple; a grape, a grape; and a hot dog will always be a hot dog--hopefully.
I'm curious as to how far this will go. Every summer you hear of near- or actual drownings of children. Again, this is a tragic, tragic situation, something every parents fears. But you can't redesign pools. It only takes a few inches of water in which drowning is possible. The steps are taken in order to be as sure as you possibly can that a child won't be in a situation where they can drown. But bad things will still happen.
I tried to find statistics on these situations, but it was difficult to find exact numbers. What I do know is that sometimes the fear of what may happen does more to affect how people act than the actual number. Worrying about what may happen is a major reason for why people act, but overall it's irrational. I'm not sure if that pertains to this situation--maybe there is an epidemic of children choking on hot dogs, hard candies, etc.--but my guess is that this is more precautionary.
My hope is that tomorrow the AAP retracts or at least amends their statement. Or maybe this is a method to get the word out to parents: make a policy that is so overwhelmingly to an extreme that it makes headlines and then it comes to people's attention that they need to take care in feeding their children.
It just might work.
Wow, so who gave me permission to use this blog as a soapbox??