Choking and Toys
What does a three-year-old have in common with the family dog? They are likely to have the same bite force, according to scientists at the University of Leeds.
This is important to know because toddlers and preschoolers are able to bite and chew objects and then inhale or choke on the small pieces. The scientists urge toy makers to review their safety tests and develop a bite-testing standard for toys. Dr. Gary Mountain, senior child health lecturer and deputy head of the university’s School of Healthcare adds that there’s currently no standard to safeguard children when biting and/or chewing toys or play products and breaking off pieces that could then be swallowed or inhaled. Dr Mountain collaborated with colleagues at the Leeds Dental Institute to design an instrument to accurately test the bite force of children aged three to five, which is the age group most likely to mouth bite and chew foreign objects. Their research showed that the force of a child’s bite is affected by poor dental health, weight, and even their ethnicity.
Parents should keep in mind that even though a toy initially isn’t small enough to choke on, if a child is chewing on it, he could break off small pieces and then choke on them. As always, adult supervision is critical.