Popcorns are certainly one of the most favorite snacks of all the families, including mine. They are easy to make, quick to serve, and absolutely delicious. So be it movie nights or evening snacks, popcorns are an essential part of all the fun happening in the house.
However, for toddlers or small kids, popcorns can act as choking hazards and can be extremely harmful or even fatal. Hence, I would recommend keeping the crispy popcorns away from the kids for a certain age, especially till they become better at chewing and swallowing food.
In this article, we’ll discuss all the health hazards of popcorns, when it is safe for you to serve popcorn to your kids and how you can prevent choking at your home. Let’s begin with the delicious popcorns as potential choking hazards.
Popcorns as Choking Hazards for Kids
Popcorns are among those food items that you should keep away from your little ones. All might love them, but when it comes to little kids, they can be dangerous.
Popcorns have a particular shape and texture that makes them likely to get stuck in your baby’s windpipe. Being immature chewers, they cannot thoroughly chew, grind and intake the whole or half popped kernels like adults. Hence, popcorns can stick in the throat and cause choking.
On top of that, they are pretty dry, and a handful of the popped kernels can result in your baby’s airway getting choked.
Besides that, popcorns can also lead to aspiration issues. Their small pieces can get stuck in your kid’s lungs and might lead to various respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.
Another critical issue with popcorns is that you cannot “modify” them. You can make smoothies of your fruits, grind your nuts, or something like that, but popcorns are not likely to be modified and made suitable for kids’ eating. Hence, the best thing to do with them is to keep them away from their reach.
That’s why it is recommended by doctors and nutritionists that kids should not be served popcorns till the age of four. After this age, you can serve them such foods as kids develop better chewing and eating capabilities and can easily swallow food items.
Parenting is a challenging job, and a minute error can lead to dangerous results. Choking is one such phenomenon that’s pretty common among children below three and can be fatal if not given proper medical treatment at the right time.
You’ll be surprised to know that choking is one big reason for the deaths of toddlers around the world. According to a report, one U.S. child has to face death every five days because of choking. This heartbreaking fact is enough to remind us all that we should be extra careful about what is going inside our kid’s mouths.
Along with popcorns, several food items can also cause choking. These foods include raw vegetables, hard candies, or chewing gums. Take care to keep them away from your kids.
Kids have a habit of putting objects into their mouths, so it is advised to keep them away from the kitchen where they might find raw food items such as nuts or seeds, full-size fruits or whole grapes, chunks of food such as meat, or big-size cheese.
Choking: DOs And DON’Ts
Popcorns, along with a few other food items, toys, or other household objects can be potential choking hazards for your little ones. However, some small preparations and precautions are enough to end the risk of such accidents.
Here is a list of some precautions that you can take to eliminate the possibility of choking at your home.
1. Pay Attention
The most reliable thing to do to prevent choking accidents at home is simply paying attention to your kids while they are eating. Hence, I suggest that you never leave your kids unattended when they are eating. Keep an eye on how they are eating (if eating by themselves) or feed them yourself with love and care.
2. Serve Them The Smallest Bite
When you are preparing meals, do not let any big chunk of food stay in your kid’s food. For that purpose, you can cut the veggies or fruits into small perfect size bites and make sure there are no seeds or pits.
3. No Running Or Playing While Eating
I recommend you make this a permanent rule at home that when your baby has food, they sit calmly and not play or run. These activities can dramatically increase the chances of choking.
4. Make Your Kid Sit Straight While Eating
Developing healthy eating habits is, I believe, a mandatory practice for all the parents that helps the children in the long run. Teach them to chew properly and not be active or talk while eating.
5. Cook Or Steam The Food Items To Make Them Safer To Eat
Make your kids have lots of liquids like juices or milk in their diet. However, ensure that they don’t take solid and liquid simultaneously and consume liquid items between the eating or mouthful time.
Apart from food items, several household items can also act as choking hazards. These include small items that kids like to play with and put in their mouths, such as latex balloons, coins, or marbles.
Besides that, some toys with small parts, button-type batteries, screws, stuffing from a bean bag chair, erasers, staples, safety pins, and small stones can also be the most common choking hazards.
No Popcorns, Then What Can You Serve As Alternative Popcorn?
From the above discussion, it is clear that you cannot give your child popcorns before they turn four. However, snacks are an essential part of the kid’s diet as it keeps them energetic and helps them achieve the right nutrition levels. Hence, ignoring snacks completely is not an intelligent decision.
Now the interesting question that emerges is – What snacks can you serve them?
So, instead of crisp popcorns, you can always serve them items that are easy to chew or liquid snacks. Plain yogurt mixed with honey, cheese, oatmeal, fruit smoothies, hard-boiled eggs, healthy cookies, or cakes is a great alternative. Besides that, you can also give peanut butter puffs or banana quesadilla to your babies.
These small changes in food habits will definitely lead to a healthy and happy life for you and your kids.
Founder and a 36-year old mother of one who has gone through the usual problems of parenting herself and shares her own experiences through this blog. Ruby is a great writer who researches well before putting forth facts in the articles.