I will admit that I fall into the class of mothers known as “nervous mothers.” I’m not exactly a helicopter mom, but I’ve got anxiety (like legit medical anxiety) and I’m wound pretty tight, so I struggle with my mind jumping to the worst possible conclusion, like, every time, and I also struggle with thinking of every little thing as an emergency. I am wound pretty tight. So. All that to say that I’ve always had a fear of one of my kids choking, and this fear of mine hovers somewhere between completely rational and cutting my seven-year-old’s food in ridiculously small bites. But the truth is, toddler choking hazards are real, and parents need to be 100% competent in both the Heimlich maneuver and CPR to be prepared to save their children in case of a choking incident.
A sad reminder of this fact is the tragic death of Ayyan Umar, a two-year-old metro Detroit boy who choked to death in a grocery store last week after he swiped two grapes from a package while sitting in his mom’s grocery cart. I am sure all of us moms who ever took a toddler to the grocery store can recall an incident or two when one of our kiddos tried to swipe food from what we haven’t even paid for yet, so this kind of thing could happen to anyone. In Umar’s case, he grabbed the grapes while his mom Emma Carver had her backed turned to him, picking out some cheese.
She told ABC 7 that she whirled around when she heard him making choking noises.
“I even threw the cheese down and I started banging on him,” said Carver, hoping to dislodge whatever was in his throat. “But it wasn’t getting it out, so it had to be lodged.”
The grieving mother said a fellow shopper called 911 and another tried CPR before emergency responders arrived in five to seven minutes to help the boy. They got one grape dislodged from his airway, but were unable to get a second grape out before little Ayan died.
Grapes of course, have long been known as toddler choking hazards, and are recommended to be cut into small pieces when given as a snack or with a meal, but few could imagine that they’d need to watch the fruit like a hawk if it and a toddler are both in the same grocery cart together. But sadly, that is exactly the situation that led to Ayan’s tragic death.
Carver says she and Ayan’s father, Mohammad Umar, have signed up to take a first aid class and she encourages other parents to do the same.
“I was feeling like maybe it was a bad dream, maybe somebody gonna wake me up,” says his Ayan’s grieving dad. “He sleeps on my chest. I see him everywhere.”
I took a first aid class shortly after having my first child, as the woman who ran my childbirth education class encouraged us to do, and I’m so glad I did. Moms and dads, if you aren’t equipped to help your kids in the event they might need the Heimlich or CPR, please get signed up for a class today!
For a list of toddler choking hazards and choking hazard safety tips, check out this article from Nationwide Children’s Hospital.