Urgent warning to parents as common snack puts your child’s life at risk

THERE’S a few foods parents know to avoid giving their toddlers for fear they’ll choke on them: nuts, popcorn, boiled sweeties, marshmallows.

But there’s a common snack you might not realise has the potential to endanger your child’s life, according to a first aider.

You might not have thought mandarins could be dangerous for your child to eat


You might not have thought mandarins could be dangerous for your child to eat
The pith and membrane of a mandarin can be tough and hard to chew


The pith and membrane of a mandarin can be tough and hard to chewCredit: Tiny Hearts Education
The first aider at shared how to give your tots mandarin to eat safely


The first aider at shared how to give your tots mandarin to eat safelyCredit: Not known, clear with picture desk

It is none other the mandarin or satsuma, a lunch-box staple for many older children.

But the fruit are high risk choking foods for babies and toddlers, who struggle eating things that have stringy, fibrous textures, as well as food that is hard or small enough to block their airway.

According to the team child and baby first aid experts behind Tiny Hearts Education, a mandarin’s pith and membrane makes this citrus fruit a choking hazard, as they are “chewy, spongy and difficult to chew”.

In a video uploaded to their Instagram page, she showed how the membrane surrounding each mandarin piece fails to break apart easily, forming a mushy clump.

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The medic added that the seeds in mandarins also pose a choking risk for your child.

But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid feeding your tot the fruit altogether.

The medic shared a handy tip to get quickly get rid of the tough membranes on mandarins and oranges.

She first cut the fruit in half, removed the seeds and then cut little triangles between the membranes, producing soft and easy to chew slivers of mandarin while the chewy, hard bits get left behind.

“A seedless and membrane-free piece of mandarin,” she wrote.

“I find this methods much more efficient that trying to pick off the membranes by hand,” the medic added.

The team behind Tiny Hearts Education has previously shared three things you should avoid doing at all costs if your child starts choking.

This includes sticking your fingers inside their mouth or hanging them upside down.

What to do if your child chokes

It’s a parents worst nightmare to imagine a situation in which they have to save their child from choking.

But in that moment, it may be you that will have to step up and perform first aid.

The NHS says if you can see an object lodged in your child’s mouth, take care to remove it because blindly poking at it could make things worse.

If the child is coughing, encourage them to continue as they may be able to bring the object up – don’t leave them.

If the coughing isn’t effective (it is silent or they cannot breathe properly), shout for help immediately.

If the child is still conscious, use back blows. 

First aiders at St John Ambulance give the following advice based on the child’s age.


  1. Slap it out:
  • Lay the baby face down along your thigh and support their head  
  • Give five back blows between their shoulder blades  
  • Turn them over and check their mouth each time  

2. Squeeze it out:

  • Turn the baby over, face upwards, supported along your thigh 
  • Put two fingers in the centre of their chest just below the nipple line; push downwards to give up to five sharp chest thrusts 
  • Check the mouth each time  

3. If the item does not dislodge, call 999 or 112 for emergency help  

  • Take the baby with you to call  
  • Repeat the steps 1 and 2 until help arrives 
  • Start CPR if the baby becomes unresponsive (unconscious)  


1. Cough it out  

  • Encourage the casualty to keep coughing, if they can 

2. Slap it out  

  • Lean them forwards, supporting them with one hand 
  • Give five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades 
  • Check their mouth each time but do not put your fingers in their mouth  

3. Squeeze it out  

  • Stand behind them with your arms around their waist, with one clenched fist between their belly button and the bottom of their chest 
  • Grasp the fist in the other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards, giving up to five abdominal thrusts 
  • Check their mouth each time 
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4. Call 999 or 112 for emergency help if the object does not dislodge  

  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 until help arrives 
  • Start CPR if the person becomes unresponsive (unconscious) 

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