My daughter died on her third day at nursery after she choked on mashed potato

My daughter died on her third day at nursery after she choked on mashed potato

Mum Joanne Thompson had only just returned from maternity leave when her worst nightmare came true.

Baby Millie, aged nine months, had choked while eating mashed potato and despite being rushed to hospital, tragically passed away by the time Joanne and husband, Dan arrived.

"It's the worst thing you can ever go through as a parent," said Joanne.

"You never expect something like this to happen to you.

"Millie was a funny, happy, smiley little girl who loved to dance, particularly to Paul Simon songs."

"She was our only child so we lost our family unit and had to go back to being a couple again," continued Joanne, who lost Millie in October 2012.

"It's so hard.

"I suffered PTSD from what happened and have had treatment for anxiety and depression.

"I felt that I couldn't have another child because I couldn't bear going through that again."

After Millie passed away, the couple set up a Facebook page, urging for users to sign a petition for all nurseries to be better prepared for saving lives – which after receiving 100,000 signatures – was debated in parliament.

Current Early Years Foundation Stage guidelines state that only one member of staff be trained in paediatric first aid.

When the issue was debated in parliament, it was decided that every newly qualified nursery staff would now need to be trained in children's first aid.

Realising this didn't change the guidelines on already existing staff, Joanne and Dan worked with NDNA (National Day Nurseries Association) to set up Millie's Mark – a charity created to ensure every member of staff is trained.

"As a parent putting your child into nursery, you just assume they will be safe," said Joanne.

"We chose the best nursery in our area but it never crossed our minds to ask about how many members of staff were trained in paediatric first aid.

"As parents, we should be asking these questions.

"We also need to check the training too because standard first aid doesn't cover children's first aid.

"It's also worth asking 'would you be confident if my child started choking that you would know what to do?'

"Some parents don't feel comfortable asking these questions so we've done that for them by setting up Millie's Mark.

"It was only Millie's third day at nursery when it happened.

"I don't want another parent or child to have to go through that."

To receive a Millie's Mark, nurseries must undergo an assessment process along with paediatric training courses.

The process takes up to six months and also includes spot checks where staff are questioned on scenarios, ensuring knowledge and training is constantly up-to-date.

There are currently 400 nurseries across the UK that have been awarded Millie's Mark, with Co-op Childcare becoming the UK's first large childcare provider to have Millie's Mark in all 44 of its nurseries.

"As a parent, placing your child in a setting or with a childminder that is endorsed with Millie’s Mark provides reassurance that all childcare practitioners know what to do in a paediatric first aid situation," said Joanne.

"It acknowledges that children’s safety is at the forefront of the provider's mind when they care for your child.

"We felt that if there had been more people trained in paedetaric first aid, maybe everyone could have worked together on Millie."

Today, Joanne and Dan have gone on to have two sons – Leo, almost four and 15-month-old Asher.

"I never wanted to put my other kids into nursery," said Joanne.

"But we decided to take Leo to one of the nurseries that first got Millie's Mark when he was two-and-a-half. He went just two days a week and I found it really tough.

"The staff helped us a lot before he started because they knew our story.

"Asher is still at home. He'll go when he gets to a similar age to when his brother started.

"It's been a horrendous journey and is not something you ever get over but it does get easier.

"Birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas are the hardest time.

"People have helped us, most can't believe something like this can happen."

Parents can visit the Millie's Trust Facebook page and find their nearest Millie's Mark-accredited nursery on the website.

Earlier this week, we told you one mum was scolded by five-year-old daughter’s teacher for over-packing her lunchbox – but is this too much food?

We also revealed mum-of-five refuses to vaccinate her children because they’re ‘protected by Jesus’.

And we told you ‘uncomfortable’ mum bans her 19-year-old daughter from sharing a bed with her boyfriend, 23, when he stays at her home.

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