‘I Didn’t Think Twice’ — Mom Warns Parents About an Overlooked Choking Hazard that Landed Toddler in the Hospital

choking hazard

These days, it seems like most parents are aware of some of the more obvious foods that present choking hazards to our kids. Things like grapes and hot dogs are supposed to be sliced in a way that protects young kids from choking on them by accident.

But a Colorado mom is warning parents this week about a food she’d completely overlooked as a choking hazard — one that many of us feed our kids on a weekly basis.

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Nicole Johnson Goddard took to Facebook after a terrifying experience with popcorn sent her toddler son into emergency surgery to save his life.

Now that I’ve had a chance to sit and reflect on a very unfortunate but eye opening event that our family encountered. I…

Posted by Nicole Johnson Goddard on Sunday, February 24, 2019

Goddard and her family were all gathered around on a Saturday night in February, watching movies together and eating popcorn—something she says is a “frequent event” on the weekends.

“I didn’t think twice to give Nash popcorn,” she wrote. “Nash had small choking episode but was fine. We didn’t see anything come out so we assumed he swallowed it. He seemed completely fine and continued to watch the movie. The only thing we observed was a cough he developed after the episode.”

Goddard says it wasn’t until the next day that she began to grow concerned.

“The next day he was fine but still had a weird sounding cough which concerned me a little. I just assumed he was catching the same crud we had all been going through.”

By Monday, all recollection of the choking fit had escaped them. But Nash’s crud-like symptoms continued to worsen. Goddard says she gave Nash some Motrin for his fever, and noticed he was “super fussy.”

“A very long night with him and then his breathing looked a little labored to me and he just didn’t feel good. I called my pediatrician immediately.”

At the hospital, doctors performed a chest x-ray and a bronchoscopy only to find that the culprit was much more severe than the common cold.

“He had aspirated popcorn into his lungs when he choked,” she said. “The body recognized it as a foreign object and put puss pockets around it. All the inflammation caused him to develop pneumonia in his left lung.”

Nash went in for surgery that evening where the doctor removed six pieces of popcorn from the little boy’s lungs. Due to the inflammation, the doctor felt it was unlikely he had gotten all of the pieces out, so Nash was scheduled for the same procedure two days later.

“It was a an up-and-down rollercoaster,” Goddard recalled. “Once again, my poor guy had to be put under and rolled off to surgery. The doctor met us when it was over and said the procedure was successful and that he got the last piece out. Nash was a rock star.”

Following the scare, Goddard says she wanted to share her experience because it was all ignited by popcorn—something her family and several others consume often.

“I got a lecture on how popcorn isn’t supposed to be given to anyone under five years old,” she admitted.

And like many parents, she used “the excuse that he’s our third child” and she hadn’t been as diligent about paying “close attention to the dos and don’ts as we did with our first.”

Goddard says she wrote the post as an “eye opener for people to see how something you think is fine can quickly turn into something bad.” She also encourages parents to always trust their gut, because doing so may have literally saved her son’s life.


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Bri Lamm
Bri is an outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure. She lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese in between capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras. Follow me on Facebook!