What foods are unsafe to feed toddlers in my child care program?

Avoid serving foods that may choke a young toddler. Only foods that are soft or will soften in the mouth should be served. Avoid raw carrots, nuts, popcorn, unpeeled fruits and vegetables, hard candies, pickles, hot dogs. Other examples of foods that can cause choking in children under the age of 4 include apple wedges, apple rings, bell pepper slices, cherries, celery sticks, cucumber slices, and grapes.

Children should sit when eating and should not be allowed to eat while walking around. Toddlers who carry food around are likely to stumble and choke. A trail of food across the room can also present cleanliness problems. You will find that children are much more willing to sit down and eat if you join them.

Always keep a watchful eye and carefully supervise young children during meals and snacks. Young children choke easily, and you may not see them choking unless you are facing them. Never leave children alone when eating meals or snacks.

For more about choking risks, check out the article from Just in Time Parenting about foods toddlers can choke on. To learn more about eating habits in young children, see the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care article on typical eating behaviors in young children.