TIFU with Peanut Butter

For those of you who aren’t reddit-savvy, TIFU is short for “Today I F***ed Up”, and how true that was. Baby is 10 months old now and has been eating like a champ since she was 4/5 months. We’ve phased away from food pouches and baby foods and pretty much just give her what we’re eating. There are still some things on the no-no list, like honey and whole nuts, but for the most part, we’ve exposed her to everything out there. Except peanut butter. It may have been due to lack of opportunity or just concern over the consistency but we had managed to forget introducing this significant food item. So the husband and I went out yesterday and bought her some peanut butter, creamy, organic, no added salted. We put some on toast for her that night and everything was fine. (To be fair, this wasn’t her first time eating peanut butter. She had actually had a minute taste the week before when I was making peanut butter and chocolate fudge. And no, I didn’t give her the chocolate portion.)

So this morning, I wake up and decide I’m gonna make a nice breakfast for me and her (her and me?). I toasted a piece of bread and added the peanut butter. And for the main course, I cooked up some steel cut oatmeal and added blueberries. As we’re eating, I look at the toast and notice the amount of peanut butter on the bread. It wasn’t like my-six-year-old-put-his-own-syrup-on-his-eggos amount, but it also wasn’t sparse either. I got a little nervous but figured, hey…it was pretty watery/oily when I knifed it out of the jar, so it shouldn’t be too big of a problem. Plus, Baby was just gonna gum the toast for a while anyway. But the thought had me on high alert because if she were to choke on peanut butter, that would be a bad situation; peanut butter isn’t something solid you can easily remove from their mouth. MISTAKE #1. If your gut tells you something listen to it. No more than 10 seconds after that unsettling thought came into my mind, Baby started choking, and I do mean choking. There was no sound coming out of her mouth. Having seen her gag before, I waited a moment to see if she’d clear her throat on her own, but this time she seemed to be having difficulties. After three retches, I jumped up to assist and put my finger into her mouth to clear out the bread. I got a big chunk of soggy bread out, but she was still choking and I could tell there was more bread and peanut butter in her throat. So I panicked. I did the first thing that came to my mind and I stuck my finger down the back of her throat to get that last piece, while yelling “oh my god!”. (MISTAKE #2┬áDon’t always listen to your gut.) At that point, Baby started crying which indicated to me that she could breathe, so I picked her up, comforted her and got her some water.

In the moment, I thought she was crying because she was scared from the choking and from my panicking, but as we both calmed down, I realized that she was more likely crying from the fact I rammed my finger down her throat. In the moments that followed, I thought through my actions and what I could have done differently. I realized that sticking my finger down her throat was the worst thing I could have done because it could have lodged the bread further down into her throat.

At this point, you’re probably thinking “Well, of course you did the wrong thing. Didn’t you learn the proper procedure in infant CPR class?”. Well, yes and no. The thing is, the husband and I opted not to take that course when I was pregnant. After enlisting in a birthing class, we found that our wallet wasn’t prepared to take on the “burden” of the other classes, like breastfeeding, infant massage and CPR. Besides, I had taken it multiple times in my teen years when I was babysitting in my community and the main thing I learned from it is, if you don’t feel comfortable or able to the do the required actions, it’s always okay to call for help. (And as a teenager, if any of the children under my care started choking, I would have immediately called 911. I didn’t want to take any chances.) That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything from the classes. Sitting here now with a calm and clear head, I know the steps front to back, but in that hectic moment all that knowledge went out the window and I just wanted her throat clear so she could breathe. It was a scary situation for sure, but fortunately for both of us, no one was hurt.

Proper Peanut Butter Technique to Avoid Choking
The left side has way too much peanut butter and can pose a chocking hazard. The right side has a more appropriate amount.

Unlike last post, there’s actually a reason behind this one: know what to do in the event your child is choking. That doesn’t mean you necessarily need to sign up for a bona fide class, but at least read some pamphlets, visit a website, watch an official video, or talk to someone who is CPR certified. Think about the steps when you don’t need them, so that if/when you do need them you’ll be less likely to make mistakes.

Oh, and if you do decide to feed your baby peanut putter on toast, make sure to spread that stuff THIN!

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