Traumatised mum warns about giving popcorn to under-5s – don’t do it!

Posted in Safety.

Mum Nicole Johnson Goddard has taken to Facebook to warn other families of the dangers of popcorn after a mildly worrying experience turned into a life-threatening situation for her little guy.

“The bad effect popcorn can have”

“I wanted to share our experience because as I’ve shared the story so many people were shocked and unaware of the bad effect popcorn can have on a toddler,” Nicole wrote as she detailed what happened to her little boy Nash recently.

The family were having a movie night, and were all enjoying popcorn as they’d done many times before.

“Nash had a small choking episode but was fine. We didn’t see anything come out so we assumed he swallowed it,” Nicole explained.

“He seemed completely fine and continued to watch the movie. The only thing we observed was a cough he developed after the episode.”

“Weird sounding cough”

There were hints that something was wrong the following day, so Nicole kept an eye on her little boy.

“The next day he was fine but still had a weird sounding cough which concerned me a little. I just assumed he was catching the same crud we had all been going through.”

But Nash slowly began to go downhill and Nicole’s mum senses began to tingle.

“As the evening came I noticed Nash felt warm and he was super fussy. He had a fever, so I gave him Motrin and put him to bed. A very long night with him and then his breathing looked a little labored to me and he just didn’t feel good.”

“Aspirated popcorn”

Nicole took Nash to the doctor who immediately escalated things. A chest X-ray lead to a bronchoscopy procedure.

“They put Nash under and performed the procedure. I paced and cried the entire time my little man was in surgery,” Nicole recalls.

“He had aspirated popcorn into his lungs when he choked. The body recognized it as a foreign object and put puss pockets around it. All the inflammation caused him to develop pneumonia in his left lung.”

Nash’s lung was very inflamed and the doctor retrieved six pieces of popcorn from within it. Two days later they repeated the same procedure.

Now that I’ve had a chance to sit and reflect on a very unfortunate but eye opening event that our family encountered. I…

Posted by Nicole Johnson Goddard on Sunday, February 24, 2019

Please avoid popcorn

Thankfully Nash is apparently now recovering well, but Nicole thanks her lucky stars that she sought medical advice, because the outcome could have been so much worse.

“We’re so thankful our little man came out OK,” she wrote on Facebook. “All of this over popcorn which is eaten on a regular basis in our home.”

“I got a lecture of course on how popcorn isn’t supposed to be given to anyone under 5. I hate to use the excuse he’s our third child so I overlook and don’t pay as close attention to the ‘do’s and don’ts as we did with our first.”

“Please no negative judgment on this post,” the relieved mum continued. “I wrote it as an eye opener for people to see how something that you think is fine can quickly turn into something bad! Always trust your gut because it’s right!!”

We’re so glad that Nash came out of this okay and hope that Nicole is on the mend too because what a terrible fright this family got.

Toddler girl eating grapes outside

To minimise the risk of your child choking:

  • Make sure you properly time the introduction of solid foods
  • Avoid high-risk foods (seeds, popcorn, whole grape, nuts and hard candy)
  • Supervise meal and snack times
  • Keep hazardous objects out of reach

The signs of choking

  • Holding the throat
  • Coughing, wheezing, gagging
  • Difficulty with breathing, speaking or swallowing
  • Making a whistling or ‘crowing’ noise or no sound at all
  • Face, neck, lips, ears, fingernails turning blue
  • Collapsing or unconscious 

You can find first aid advice on how to respond to a choking incident here.


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