Find A Penny, Pick It Up, All Day Long, A Baby Will Try to Choke on It.

As we oh so graciously navigate the wobbly legs of toddlerhood the baby is trying on for size, the post traumatic stress disorder memories of toddlers who have come before are now flooding my brain. Jarring me awake at night and creating mild anxiety panic attacks in the grocery store aisles, salad dressing in one hand and penny I just found in her mouth in the other.

I am an old pro at failure so I seize each new opportunity to learn nothing from past mistakes.  After the second child was found chewing on doll stilettos, we initiated the “chokeable bucket”. It is simply a vase where any and all items are thrown when stepped on, removed from a child’s mouth or removed from the death grip of an almost three-year-old who knows that whatever precious object travels to the chokeable bucket is never. heard. from. again. This kind of trauma is the kind that shows up, unannounced, on you doorstep like a mother-in-law or that foundation you donated to that one time in college. Out of nowhere, like a ‘Nam flashback, we will hear: “HEY, what happened to the Diver’s scuba tank, world’s smallest tea cup or that Lego you found in so-and-so’s diaper?”

It’s all fun and games until you find a Lego wheel in someone’s diaper.

Aside from the crazed attention to detail you must have in order to safely defeat the perpetual Baby-To-Toddler-Hand-To-Mouth-Disease, you must also begin taking an active role in sweeping and vacuuming daily. Daily. If your house is anything like mine, the vacuum also doubles as a spaceship or track horse. Our horse, Death By Playmobil, is moving one step closer to the glue factory in the sky with every sweep over the house. A veritable toy graveyard lives inside its belly. “Sorry, Pa. She had a case of the belly-busters real bad. Me and Timmy had no choice but to end her sufferin’ down by the waterin’-hole.”

Just like participating in a conga line is not really dancing, the vacuum is no real substitute for getting on your hands and knees while canvassing the ground and under furniture like a blind wildcat waiting for another smaller, blind animal to kill.

But, like I said, it’s all fun and games until you find a Lego wheel in someone’s diaper.

So, here I am, canvassing the floors. Crawling along, stealth like, like that Victoria’s Secret model who rolled her ankle on the runway and then lay trapped under the pressure of her gigantic angel wings. Think of me fondly as I turn a back brace into a saddle and burn Barbie’s stripper shoes under the light of the full moon.

Until then, may your children’s diapers be Lego free and may my next vacuum come with a lifetime membership to the Wine of the Month Club.

Dearest Friends, you are gone, but, never forgotten. Rest in pieces.


  1. Playmobil toys are the worst! Putting them together makes you want to slit your wrists, and those miniscule pieces are everywhere! Remind me to tell you the story of the false eyelashes in my baby’s diaper. And how I got free diapers too…

  2. Ha ha, I remember those days. And I love the checkable bucket. Fortunately my boys are old enough now to know not to put things like Legos in their mouths. But, hey you never know when a lapse in judgement could send an 8yo to the emergency room (God, let’s hope not).

  3. None of my older son’s play sets have any of the small pieces left. They have all “disappeared” into the land of “That’ll Choke His Sister”.

    • We’ve had “The Great Migration”. We’ve moved the truly horrible stuff upstairs. It always finds its way back downstairs. Those small pieces are about as intent on choking the baby as we are against it.

  4. Hilarious! Almost laughed out loud, but didn’t due to the sleeping toddler in the room next door. One day my husband and I will carry on conversations past 7 pm somewhere other than behind the closed door of the bathroom. Until then I will laugh softly to myself at everything you write!

  5. I remember my daughter, who was probably around two, coming out to say that she had swallowed a penny and it was hurting her throat. I called the pediatrician to ask what to do, quite frantic, the nurse’s response, “take it out of her allowance.” Terribly helpful. She did finally tell me to give her a piece of bread to make her throat feel better.

    • The Lego wheel in the diaper is not an embellishment. When I saw it, I thought. HOLY CRAP and then thought, I’m a terrible parent. And then thought, YES, my kid has bowels of STEEL. This parenting gig is no joke. Which, is why I like to joke about it. 🙂 Thanks for reading, Becky!

  6. When my daughter was about 8 months old, I noticed she was chewing on something in the corner of the kitchen. I almost died when I noticed it was a piece of the mug I had broken the week before. Turns out I hadn’t gotten it all up like I thought I had. Her whole mouth was filled with blood, and yet she was still chewing on the damn thing. Who does that?!

  7. My niece is at that stage and while opening Christmas presents my brother and sister in law would jump on anything and everything that came out the gift. Ribbon? choking hazard. Jewelry? choking hazard. Tissue paper? choking hazard.

  8. Why don’t all vacuums come with a Wine of the Month Club membership? Crawling stealth-like sweeping the floor with you…

  9. We would need a whole chokable tote at our house. Just swept the floor of Legos in someone’s room as toddler followed behind me eating all the ones I didn’t pick up. Aye yi yi!

  10. SO true. People talk about baby proofing as if you’ll never have another child in the house, littering it with highly choke-worthy items. And then what? Like you say – vigilance is the only safeguard.

  11. So many small toys. So, so many, and with each child the collection builds. To add insult to injury, the current toddler in my house insists on being held by whoever’s wielding the vacuum. It doesn’t make my job any easier. 😉

  12. Chokable bucket is genius!

  13. I see alot of nail polish in there, that happens at my house. NO, you can’t have nail polish, or lipstick, or eyeshad….Who in the fuck gave my (then 4 year old) daughter a stupid make up kit?? GAH! Great post, love it as usual! <3 Devan

    • The nailpolish and lip gloss KILL me. My house wasn’t trashy enough. It totally needed grape lip gloss smeared into the classy futon we use as a couch.

    • Totally agree! A wonderful in-law of mine gave my 2.5 yo a sparkly lip gloss kit. Of course, I gave in and gave it to her just to stop the “siren”. About 10 minutes later, I had to weave across about 3 lanes of traffic in my minivan because she was screaming because she had smeared the lip gloss all over her face and it got in her eyes… Gah!

  14. Love it and actually have a basket here that we use for the same thing from last Easter actually and then the garbage doubles as the other basket when we see fit. I swear with a two year old and three year old, I have lost count how many things I have found in their mouths. I guess it just is what it is!!

    • Janine, I have started just tossing stuff too, BUT, I have to bury it under the trash already in the can so the kids don’t see that I threw it away. Essentially, I’m spending 1/2 of my day digging things our of people’s mouths and the other half dumpster diving. Class out the ass.

  15. Mine just started crawling so we just got to this point. I do not put it as eloquently as you do, however. For me, it comes out as cuss words. The baby navigates like a moth to a flame to anything that is choke-able. How do they know?

  16. This was so funny I had to read it out loud to my husband!! Everything here that I fish out of a fist or mouth or messy little hands ends up on the top of my refrigerator…my husband just has to walk into the kitchen and look at the fridge to figure out what kind of day we have had 🙂

  17. When my daughter was crawling she was mostly into the dog’s food… I chalked it up to adding protein to her diet and looked the other way so long as she wasn’t choking…

  18. I’m afraid my little guy is on his own now. I stuck my finger in his mouth the other day and I thought my pinky was going to be permanently damaged. Ouch!! Luckily one of his favorites is toilet paper, that shouldn’t do much damage, right?

  19. Oh my girl!
    Years ago, while I was taking a moment to myself in the bathroom, my then 3 year old daughter politely knocked on the door to inform me that her 3 month old brother was choking. I flew off the toilet seat, pants around my ankles, and grabbed the baby to do the baby Heimlich. What popped out you may ask? Why 26 cents, of course! 2 dimes, a nickel, and a penny popped out of my 3 month old’s mouth.
    When I interrogated his sister, she caved and admitted, “I put them in there mom. I wanted to see what would happen!”
    In hindsight, I should have taken her declaration, “Let’s return him!” while we drove by the hospital a bit more seriously.
    So, my dear, crawl around on your hands and knees and scour the floor like I did, and you STILL may be defeated by the mind of a sinister 3 year old.

    BTW, love your posts!

    Also, one way I got around all the infernal vaccuuming an knee crawling searches was to put the big kid with the tiny toys in the play pen while the baby got the benefit of crawling around on a lego free floor. Plus, it contained the legos, and the big kid could get in and out by her or himself. 😉

    • Ohmigod. I can see my 3 year old trying to put money in his sister’s mouth if she would let him. Luckily, she’s 17 months and has an iron will of her own.
      I like that playpen idea for the older one. However, not only has the little one has already figured out how to climb out of it, she pulled a chair up to it the other day to get in it, so she could get her rabbit. I’m doomed!

    • I’m pretty sure your comment is funnier than my entire post, Annie and, I love you for that. Seriously, this comment was the best read I’ve had all day. The playpen idea is brilliant!

    • @BadParentingMoments Thank you for the comment love. Maybe one of these days, I’ll chop down my writer’s block and start blogging again. Sigh. Today, I am opting for wine and a bath… with no stow-aways or naked barbies. I can’t stand Barbie’s perfect naked body. It reminds me of checking out my undeveloped freshman self against the senior pretty girls after PE in the locker room. (Think Molly Ringwald checking out Jake’s girlfriend in 16 Candles) Not pretty. Not pretty at all. And if you throw in my “dangly” (my daughter’s word . . . not mine)and nursed 3 babies boobs compared to Barbie’s perky ones . . . I may need more than one bottle of wine.
      Happy evening to you, love.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I so needed this today!!! I was laughing while reading, my kids just staring at me wondering what was going on…very funny:)Thank u!

  21. Loved this! Loved that you mentioned that Lego wheel in the diaper bit twice. Is it crazy that I sort of miss my kids in diapers? Okay, it’s crazy. Totally crazy.

  22. After this Very Lego Christmas, we are past the point of no return when it comes to small pieces. If I got pregnant again, giving the baby up for adoption would be less traumatic than picking up all of the choking hazards in our house.


  23. I have that damn Thomas the Tank Engine barrel. The yellow one. Like that’s not the secret to asphyxiation.

    I want the fallen angel pics. STAT.

  24. My daughter is the Queen of swallowing things and stuffing things up her nose One day I found a THUMB TACK in her diaper, after pulling apart a day bed to move it in our new place, a week later I found a metal washer and nut in her diaper. THE BEST incident was when we went to a family reunion and we let her play outside. We kept an eye on her, but apprently not good enough. For a WEEK and a HALF she was breaking out in hives, I took her to 3 doctors and kept a journal to see if we could figure it out. A week and a half later, I noticed she was having trouble pooping. Here she had eaten rocks, covered in dust controll off the driveway. (I contacted my family to get a sample of the rocks to test, I mean she broke out in HIVES) She pooped like 3-4 diapers FULL of rocks. Fast forwad a few years, we made 2 emergency room runs, 1 to get a nerf dart out of her nose that was there for a week and I did not know, 2, to get a popcorn kernal out of her nose.

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