What foods should I avoid giving my infant or toddler?

Infants and toddlers are unable to chew food as older children or adults.  Foods that are hard to chew should not be given to children until their molars (these are the chewing teeth in the back of the mouth) are in place, usually between the ages 3 to 4 years.  Examples of such foods to avoid are seeds and nuts, hard candy, raw carrots, or celery or popcorn (kernels).

Soft small foods can also be breathed in (stuck in windpipe) if slippery and small enough.  Examples of such foods to avoid include raisins, grapes, hot dogs and sausage until after age 3 to 4.

Foods that are “sticky” and thus difficult to swallow should be avoided.  These foods include caramels, peanut butter, fudge, etc.  Peanut butter can be mixed with jelly.

What other articles can be aspirated (stuck in windpipe)?

Small toy parts, balloons, marbles, styrofoam, plastic bags and pen caps, are some common household items that small children can pick up and put in their mouths.  Be sure to keep all such items out of children’s reach.

What can I do to prevent choking?

  • Do not allow your child to eat and talk at the same time.
  • Cut up foods into small pieces that he is able to chew.
  • Do not allow your child to eat and run or walk around at the same time.
  • Examine all toys for small removable parts and avoid using or purchasing such toys for your child.
  • Teach your child to eat slowly and chew properly.