Everyone loves popcorn, but you may not know that when it comes to little ones, the popular snack can pose a serious choking hazard. After her toddler choked on a piece of popcorn, which ended up aspirating into his lung, mom Nicole Johnson Goddard is speaking out to warn other parents of the potential danger.
In a now-viral Facebook post published on Feb. 24, the mom of three explained the scary incident that landed her son in the hospital and in need of emergency surgery:
“Last Saturday night we were all watching a movie and eating popcorn which is a very frequent event on the weekend in our home,” she wrote. “I didn’t think twice to give Nash popcorn. Nash had a small choking episode but was fine.”
Although Goddard thought her son was OK, he still had an odd-sounding cough the next day. By that night, she noticed that he had a fever, so she gave him some Motrin and put him to bed. After a long night during which she noticed labored breathing, Goddard called her pediatrician, who advised her to bring Nash in right away.
After a chest X-ray, the doctor was concerned by what he saw and scheduled the toddler for a bronchoscopy. The procedure lets doctors view inside a person’s lungs and airway, which allowed physicians to determine that Nash would need surgery. Because his body recognized the aspirated popcorn as a foreign object, he developed pus pockets around it, causing pneumonia in his left lung. Although the surgeon removed six pieces, he couldn’t be sure that he got all of it out. So Nash then had to undergo a second surgery.
“It was an up and down roller coaster but we were in the best care,” Goddard wrote of the harrowing experience. “The second procedure was done and once again poor guy had to be put under and rolled off to surgery. The doctor met us when it was over and said procedure was successful and he got the last piece out.”
Nash recovered well and left the hospital that night. Goddard is immensely grateful but also understandably still feels shaken by the experience. She hopes that her story can help other parents avoid having to go through it as well.
“If I wouldn’t have trusted my instinct and brought him in, the outcome wouldn’t have been good,” she wrote.
Her post has been shared more than 135,000 times.
Goddard admits that she received a lecture from the physician that treated her son about the dangers of giving popcorn to any child under the age of 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,” she wrote.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, in addition to popcorn, foods that may cause choking hazards in toddlers approximately 1 to 3 years old include other small hard foods, like nuts, seeds, raisins, and raw carrots, as well as slippery foods like whole grapes and sticky foods like peanut butter and marshmallows. Candy and cough drops are also no-nos.
We’re glad little Nash is feeling better!