My son tried popcorn for the first time at around age 5 even though the recommended age for kids eating popcorn is 4. I’m pretty damn scared to give him popcorn, so any popcorn he has is outside of the house. The reason is simple: I experienced food choking first hand when my daughter chocked on a piece of de-frosted mango. So, popcorn is an enemy in my house. But since it’s popular in other houses, I wanted to remind people about potential danger of giving popcorn to young kids unsupervised.
Why Is Popcorn a Controversial Food for Kids?
Just as in the case of the age appropriateness of fruit snacks, many parents are concerned over the question “when can kids have popcorn”? And for a reason. Popcorn is among the list of food that shouldn’t be given to kids under the age of 4. The reason is that kids’ chewing and swallowing mechanisms are not mature enough before the age of 4. Hence, the kids cannot chew and swallow the hard kernels in wholly and half-popped popcorn. This is particularly dangerous because children tend to put handfuls of popcorn in their little mouths which makes the risk and the possibility for choking even greater.
What Other Foods Kids Under 4 Can Choke on?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend feeding popcorn to toddlers. Other potentially choking-risky food items are:
- Hot dogs
- Nuts and seeds
- Chunks of meat or cheese
- Whole grapes
- Hard or sticky candy
- Chunks of peanut butter
- Chunks of raw vegetables
- Chewing gum
Besides small hard food chunks, other small objects can also choke young children if they swallow them. Hence, children should not be allowed to play with items such as needles, pins, coins, small magnets and small batteries. Buttons, beads, marbles and polystyrene beads are all potential choking hazards for kids.
What Are the Alternatives to Popcorn for Kids?
Although kids’ love popcorn, there are still some great alternatives that you can give to your toddler instead of popcorn and still make them happy. Try snacks that are soft and easy to chew for children who are just starting to try crunchy foods. When your child is old enough, introduce them to finger foods that can easily dissolve or get mushy in their mouth. Some alternatives are mini rice cakes, puffed corn cakes, snap pea crisps, peanut puffs and other softer types of crackers. If you really cannot convince your child to eat any of these then the Amish Mart has hull-less popcorn is perhaps an option for you to choose from.
What to Do if a Child Is Choking on Popcorn?
If your child is choking on popcorn, call for an ambulance as soon as possible and then do high abdominal thrusts to help a child over the age of 1. If it is an infant that is choking use quick blows to the shoulder blades.
In addition, here’s a product that may turn helpful in choking cases.
Dechoker is a life-saving device that can be used to quickly clear the child or adult’s airways. It comes in 3 different sizes according to the age of the person:
- For toddlers: 1-3 year old
- For children: 3-12
- For adults: 12+
The overall dimensions are 12.87 x 5.12 x 3.31 inches, and the design is light and portable. It requires little training and can be safely used by following the step-by-step guide.
The topic of whether popcorn should be given to kids under the age of 4 has been discussed by parents for a while. Although popcorn can seem as a harmless snack to give to your toddler, it is best to err on the side of safety and avoid them altogether until your child turns 4. The reason is because children’s chewing and swallowing skills are considered underdeveloped under the age of 4. Until then consider giving your child crunchy but safe alternatives such as rice cakes, peanut puffs, snap pea crisps, and other.
1. Is popcorn a healthy snack?
Popcorn is a healthy snack in general but you can make it even healthier by preparing it at home. Air-popped popcorn is a healthier option than microwave popcorn because it contains less fat, salt, and sugar. Apart from this popcorn has higher levels of antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. This means popcorn is a good snack for people who want to boost their health. However, even though it is a healthy snack, parents should get informed as to when can kids have popcorn. The recommended age for kids to start eating popcorn is at 4 years old. And in the meantime other healthy snacks can be offered to toddlers until they’re older and ready for popcorn.
2. What are the risks of popcorn for kids?
When can kids eat popcorn and what are the risks of popcorn for kids are the two questions that many parents commonly ask. The answer to both is that popcorn is a choking hazard for little kids and should not be eaten by children under the age of 4. Choking is one of the leading causes of death for toddlers and a large kernel of popcorn can get stuck in a child’s throat.
There are also risks associated with popcorn for kids that can include obesity and allergies. Popcorn is generally high in calories and fat, which can lead to weight gain if consumed in large quantities. Some people may also be allergic to popcorn, which can cause symptoms such as itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing.
3. What are the risks of popcorn for kids with asthma?
Popcorn is a common food, but it can pose a risk to children, particularly those with asthma. When popcorn is inhaled, it can trigger an asthma attack. Symptoms of an asthma attack include wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, popcorn can be aspirated into the lungs and cause difficulty breathing. If you suspect your child has inhaled popcorn, seek medical attention immediately.