Popcorn can be a fun snack or treat for anyone, including kids. It’s normal to wonder if it’s safe for them and when kids are able to start eating popcorn.
Children can eat popcorn when they are 4 years old. Kids shouldn’t have popcorn before the age of 4 because of young children’s inability to chew properly. At age 4, they have developed their chewing and swallowing skills enough to be able to eat popcorn.
It’s important that you make sure kids are old enough and can eat properly before they have popcorn. There are many potential safety hazards for young children if they eat popcorn. It’s important to understand these hazards and also understand when it is safe for a child to begin eating popcorn.
How Old Should a Child Be Before Eating Popcorn?
A child should be at least 4 years old before they are allowed to eat popcorn. This is for their own safety and so they don’t choke on their snack. This is about the average age when children have the level of skills necessary for chewing and swallowing. They need to be able to do this with dry foods to be able to safely handle this kind of snack.
It is usually around the age of 4 that children will get their molars and finally be able to chew and break down food effectively enough to have a snack like popcorn. At this age, they have developed their eating skills and are now able to chew well enough to break down the food.
Are you curious if popcorn is healthy? Read the article here
Why Kids Should Wait Until Age 4 to Eat Popcorn?
Waiting until toddlers are at least 4 years old is for their own safety! As stated above, one of the biggest reasons you should wait until at least the age of 4 to feed your child popcorn is because they haven’t properly developed their skills in chewing and swallowing until they are this old.
Before they turn 4, and sometimes even after, children don’t have any molars. Once they get their molars around age 4, they are better able to chew and break down food effectively.
They become proficient chewers around this age. Before this age, children will often try to swallow foods whole because they still haven’t learned how to chew. Popcorn can be dangerous for children over 4 years old if they haven’t yet developed molars.
Popcorn has small pieces, such as the husks, that frequently get stuck in between teeth. Small children will have a hard time getting those pieces out of their teeth, and if those pieces are stuck for long periods of time, it can cause damage to the enamel of the teeth and increase the risk of cavities.
In general, kids are at greater risk of choking until they reach the age of 4. On top of this, younger children are very easily distracted by things happening around them. This also increases the risk of choking and is also why young children and toddlers should be supervised and assisted while they eat.
It’s important that when young kids are eating they are not talking, laughing, walking, or running while they do so. These can all increase the risk of choking while toddlers are eating. It’s also important that toddlers and young children don’t eat too fast because this also puts them at risk for choking.
Why is Popcorn a Choking Hazard?
Popcorn is actually one of the biggest choking hazards for younger kids and is among the top 10 food choking hazards. Popcorn is one of the highest risk choking hazard foods for little children and this is because there is not much you can do to help make it less dangerous.
It also doesn’t help that toddlers do not yet have the ability to chew and swallow well. In addition to this, they may swallow, or worse, inhale the kernels and get them stuck in their airways.
Because of the dangers, it is so important that parents know when to hold off and wait to give children popcorn until they’re old enough to handle it. Popcorn will almost always have kernels in it. The problem is that they may get stuck in children’s throats.
Getting a piece of popcorn lodged in your throat could obviously cause problems with choking and cutting off your airway, but it could also lead to small pieces actually getting stuck in your lungs. This can, unfortunately, lead to infections and potentially pneumonia.
The best way to avoid these issues and minimize choking in young children, or toddlers, is to avoid popcorn and other dangerous foods altogether. Kids should not have foods that are dry and hard, sticky, or slippery foods that clump.
These can also cause problems. It’s also a good idea to avoid any foods that are round in shape that could completely block a toddler’s airway.
Do you want to know if dogs can eat popcorn too? Read the article here
Tips for Kids and Popcorn
One of the best things you can do to avoid children choking on food, in general, is to have children sit while they are eating, no matter what food it is. They should not be allowed to jump, run, or play while they are eating because of the extremely increased risks of choking.
Children shouldn’t be rushed or left unattended while they are eating. They should be shown how to completely chew their food before swallowing and then before talking as well.
Make sure to avoid popcorn until kids are at least 4 years old and offer safe alternative snacks in the meantime.
What Are Options to Popcorn for Younger Children?
As fun as popcorn is, there are much better and safer snacks to offer to young kids.
Some better ideas for snacks for toddlers would be yogurt or fresh fruits that are thinly sliced. Other fruits with pits or large seeds in the middle are safe as long as those pits and seeds have been removed. Another option would be to have cooked, diced, or mashed vegetables. All of them should be small enough to make sure they won’t block a toddler’s airway.
Some other options include puffed corn cakes or pieces, mini rice cakes, softer types of crackers, or puffs. These are all good, safe options for kids who want something crunchy.
Popcorn is great when kids are old enough, but there are options for them in the meantime too.