By Delia Rickard, ACCC Deputy Chair

Being natural explorers, children under three years of age are especially vulnerable to choking and ingestion hazards.

Young children have a strong instinct to explore non-food items by putting them in their mouths. They also have underdeveloped cough reflexes, which makes for a dangerous combination.

Toddlers can choke or they could end up swallowing something causing serious internal damage.

While there is no substitute for supervision, you can take steps to make your home safer.

Some choking and ingestion hazards will be easy to spot like:

  • coins
  • fridge magnets
  • stray hair ties
  • batteries
  • small toys belonging to older siblings.

Other hazards may be less obvious like:

  • broken toys
  • pebbles in pot plants
  • bread clips hiding in kitchen crevices
  • coffee table ornaments may be less obvious.

Before your baby gets mobile, conduct a safety sweep of your house to remove choking hazards.

If there is any doubt, the Consumer Commission’s do-it-yourself Choke Check tool, which you can print and make at home, can help determine which objects might be a choking hazard to toddlers.

The completed tool is cylinder-shaped and works by mimicking the size of a child’s throat up to the age of 36 months.

Once made, anything that can fit totally inside the top end of the cylinder is a potential choking hazard to a young child – and something to keep out of their reach.

When it comes to child safety around the home, prevention is always better than cure.

You can get the Choke Check and instructions at

This article was first published on The BubHub on 9 July 2014.