Killed by a grape


My husband called me one afternoon to tell me a co-worker’s toddler had died. I was horrified! What was wrong? Did the little guy have a heart problem? Were they in an accident? What could take a toddler so very young and full of life away in the blink of an eye?

Killed by a Grape 1A grape.

I am not writing a hate grapes post. No. I am hoping to help you understand that long after we think our children can handle food well. Use forks and spoons politely (or at least semi-politely). They are still susceptible to choking on small items like grapes. Once lodged a grape, nut, hard candy, coin, etc can be extremely hard to get out.

Rewind the clock well over a decade ago my dearest nephew was rushed to the hospital because he was playing and had swallowed a quarter. Thank the Lord the quarter lodged slightly tilted in his airway rather than falling directly across his vocal cords and shutting down all air flow. It was a scary time that brings tears to my eyes even today.

Here is a list of easily chokable foods that we must watch and perhaps wait until our children are older to give them.


That may be why choking continues to be one of the leading causes of death for children under age four or five. This includes choking on food and non-food items, such as:

  • whole grapes
  • peanuts and other nuts
  • popcorn
  • hard candy and chewing gum
  • hard foods, including raw vegetables
  • soft foods, such as large cubes of cheese, caramels, etc.
  • chewy foods, such as thick spoonfuls of peanut butter
  • uncut hot dogs
  • coins
  • marbles and small balls
  • small magnets
  • small batteries
  • balloons, which can be a choking hazard to kids under age eight when they put broken balloon pieces in their mouths or when they inhale intact balloons when trying to blow them up 
  • safety pins, pen caps, and tacks
  • small toy parts that can fit inside a choke test cylinder or no-choke testing tube, which measures 1 1/4 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches long and simulates the size and shape of a young child’s throat, such as Lego building blocks, dice, beads, etc.
  • dry pet food

Other items or situations that could induce a choking problem (from readers input)-

Child that eats fast. Gulping foods, leading to large irregular chunks of foods.

Ice- ice cubes can easily slip down your throat and wedge no matter your age.

I feel especially moved to say something as Pinterest has fueled a trend of cute food and grapes are the perfect fruit for making and creating pinnable pics. Every holiday seems to have a special twist on how to use grapes. The scariest party food usage of grapes is freezing whole grapes then rolling them in pop rocks, jello, or koolaide.

Sour Patch Grapes {Leprachaun Candy}

I think that might be a problem even for an adult. The back to school lunch ideas also are relying heavily on grapes to create the ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ or eye balls for fruit pizzas.

I realize these are super cute ideas that look great on film. Reconsider if they look great on the plate in front of your child.

Some simple ways to help… cut grapes in half, hotdogs in easily chewed chunks, dice nuts, keep ‘baby proofing’ into the preschool years, no balloons or a strict when popped they go into mommy’s hand immediately policy. We can make these items safer.

The point is we need to know they are a danger. Often when dealing with special needs there are additional issues that we must take into account. Low tone, lack of muscle control, lack of knowledge to fully chew their food… Children with special needs need us to watch even more carefully.

I pray my husband’s coworker and his family find peace and strength during this very difficult journey they are on.

**This article has been updated and republished. I felt after hearing of 2 near death choking experiences during the 4th of July picnics and festivities that I had to repost.**


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