Recent Choking Tragedy Shouldn't Make Us Fear Hot Dogs

Moms of young children are often terrified of choking -- and with good reason. It's one of the scariest and yet most realistic ways a parent could lose a child. But usually, by the age of 8, most parents think that fear has passed.

Now, a story out of Pennsylvania should have us all rethinking that confidence. Eight-year-old Aizeya Mattocks died on Tuesday after choking on a hot dog at school.  As a parent, my heart goes out to her family in every way. But I am also terrified.

As a mom of a 5-year-old and a 3.5-year-old, I am well-versed in choking hazards. I don't ever feed my children (tofu) hot dogs without cutting them in half length wise and then slicing them to minimize choking risk. The same goes for carrots and just about any other food (like grapes) that feels scary to me. But I have become more lax with my older child. This adds a whole different layer of fear.


My number one fear with my kids, next to drowning, is choking. The idea that my child could eat something in front of me and get it lodged in her throat, and that somehow I might be powerless to save him or her.

But like SIDS and baby-proofing, I thought this kind of fear should start to dissipate as my kids get older. Now I am less sure. Obviously, I know this was a fluke. But if this could happen to one little girl, it could happen to another. And another. And another.

Sadly, this is the risk we run as parents. My daughter right now has never had a tofu hot dog that wasn't cut into pieces. In fact when her school served turkey dogs recently, she didn't even know what it was.

"I have never seen a whole one," she said. I laughed, but she is right. I have been cutting them for her since she was little and I will continue to do so. By the age of 8, I would assume we will have moved on, though. The fact is, one news story does not make a trend.

This story is tragic and moving and I feel for these parents more than I can even explain. But it isn't an example of a reason we need to make any changes. It's just a tragic and terrifying fluke. It could have happened to anyone, anywhere. Even an adult.

Does this story make you want to make any changes?

Image via dinnercraft/Flickr

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