'Possible danger': Mum's warning over popular children's snack

Nadine Carroll
·3-min read

A mother of two and former paramedic has shared a video demonstrating how a popular children’s treat can become a choking hazard.

Marshmallows are a favourite of children everywhere but Nikki Jurcutz, founder of Tiny Hearts Education – an organisation that specialise in first-aid training for parents and caregivers, has said the soft, sticky treats are a “no-no” for her children and she demonstrated why in an Instagram video.

“Your average marshmallow's size is very similar to that of a little one's (aged 0-3) airway,” Ms Jurcutz wrote in the video’s description.

Nikki Jurcutz demonstrating a choking hazard
The mother of two and former paramedic Nikki Jurcutz (right) demonstrates the size of a child throat when they are under under three-years-old. Source: Instagram/Nikki Jurcutz

Using the simple technique of pressing your first finger to your thumb, it mimics the size of a child’s airway and in the video shows that a standard marshmallow could easily become caught.

It’s not just the size of a marshmallow that makes it a possible danger, but also the consistency that can make it challenging for a young child to swallow.

“When mixed with saliva, the marshmallow's consistency changes from soft and spongy to sticky," Ms Jurcutz explained

“Think of it as trying to eat a heaped tablespoon of peanut butter – not fun.”

Marshmallows are often served with the ever popular babycino and the warmth of the milk can leave the marshmallows melted slightly, which Ms Jurcutz warns makes it even harder to cough up if a child chokes on one.

“This texture also prevents back blows from being effective if a marshmallow was to become lodged in a child's throat,” she said.

"Now I know what you're thinking - why on earth are they served with every bloody babycino!?" the mum asks.

Ms Jurcutz explains that if your little ones are going to eat marshmallows the safest way to consume them is to break the treats into smaller pieces.

“Marshmallows can be safe for little one's so as long as you rip them into quarters (like you would with grapes) - this will help avoid choking mishaps.”

Demonstrating how a marshmallow can be a choking hazard
An Instagram video demonstrated how easily a young child can coke on a marshmallow. Source: Instagram/tinyheartseducation

Although the thought of a common lolly choking a child may seem unreal there have been reports of children dying after marshmallows became stuck in their throats.

Baby died from marshmallow in hot chocolate

In 2011 a seven-month-old baby boy died after he swallowed a marshmallow from a hot chocolate.

The incident occurred in a restaurant where the boy’s family was dining in the UK. The director of the restaurant described it as “tragic”.

'It had started off as such a lovely day of friendship and laughter. It's so sad that it had to turn into such a tragic day which left everyone involved in pieces,” director of Darcy's Restaurant, Ruth Hurren told the Daily Mail at the time.

According to the report the boys father and paramedics tried to save the little boy but he became unconscious and was pronounced dead after being rushed to hospital.

And in 2017 a mother described to parenting website Kidspot, the moment she almost lost her 17-month-old daughter when she began to choke on a rice crispy treat that had marshmallows in it.

"All I could see was her tiny ponytail that sits on the top of her head shaking every time a back slap was administered but to no effect,” the mother told Kidspot.

After several tense moments the toddler thankfully coughed up the marshmallow.

“She then let out a tiny cough and a huge cry like the day she was born and slowly another and another cry. It was the sweetest noise we have ever heard.”

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