It was a normal day. We had just come back from some late morning errands. I got everyone back in the house and lunch started. Driving home, we were discussing everyone having dinosaur nuggets. Enthusiasm and cheer erupted from the backseats! Felt like a mom win.
I got my 18 month old settled in his high chair and buckled in because I wanted him to be safe and confined. I started placing nuggets from the microwave onto my kids’ plates. And onto the high chair tray. I instructed everyone to eat their lunch quickly because it was already running into nap time and quiet time—me time.
I went back into the kitchen to grab a butter knife to cut up the nuggets for my toddler. When I returned, I realized he had already gotten a head start on lunch. He had completely engulfed a full nugget, began to choke, and was turning blue.
The panic in my mama heart went from 0-10 in about .5 seconds.
I quickly snapped into fierce mom mode and tried to rip him out of the high chair with buckles around his waist. Frustrated and frantic, I probably looked insane with how fast I was moving and the suddenness of my actions.
Free from the chair, I flipped him onto his stomach and began whacking his back to dislodge the nugget. After a few seconds with no success, I began to panic again. It wasn’t working. To clarify, what I thought was right to do in that situation wasn’t helping. I resorted to my uneducated instinct, shoving my fingers in his mouth to help get it out that way.
As I forced my finger in, something came over me and told me that wasn’t going to work. Try again. It finally hit me that I needed to sit down to be able to use my knee while I was thumping his back. The closest chair happened to be holding my three year old. I hip checked him out of the chair and focused on his little brother.
So, now I have one kid crying from being thrown from a chair and one choking on his nugget. Meanwhile, my four year old is yelling to me in a panic “I’ll call daddy.” Which I yelled back was useless, and to call 9-1-1! I’m so glad that we practiced using my phone, and that she knew how to do it. Thankfully, we didn’t need the ambulance.
Full relief flooded over me in that moment. I’ve had many a close call with my kids choking, but they always recovered quickly from it by themselves.
I had never had an actual incident until that day.
Every mama emotion came rushing over me—guilt, relief, love, gratefulness, grief. I couldn’t shake the nerves for awhile, either. There was no skipping a beat with my 18 month old. He ate his lunch with no problems after I finished cutting up the choking hazard of a lunch. He even signed for more food. All the while, I’m in a pile of emotions over on the kitchen floor.
After a few minutes, I somewhat pulled myself back together. I apologized to my other kiddos. All they saw was their frantic mother trying to keep their baby brother alive. They had no idea what just really could have happened. We sat there in a big family embrace for a few moments, thankful for each little person in my arms. Then, we called their dad, who didn’t answer. And I told my daughter jokingly that he was, in fact, useless in this situation. Just trying to make light of such a heavy lunchtime drama.
Needless to say, it was a good reminder for me that kids should not be unsupervised while eating. The majority of food should be cut into bite-sized pieces for kids under two. Being mindful at every meal is something I’ve been better about since then. What other reminders would you add about keeping kids safe at meal times?