Feeding Safety for Toddlers

When toddlers are learning to eat new foods, they experience all sorts of new flavors and textures. They are also still learning to chew, do not have all of their teeth, and are at risk for choking. Adults should keep this in mind at meal and snack times, and should cut up all foods into bite-sized pieces.

Certain foods, particularly ones that are round or cylindrical (e.g., hot dogs, grapes, raisins, nuts) should be avoided in children under the age of 2. Chewy or crunchy foods should be avoided as well, since pieces may not be fully chewed when the child tries to swallow. Examples include meat, candy, popcorn, and some fruits and vegetables. It is always best to follow a pediatrician's guidelines for introducing new foods to a child.

Adults can further reduce choking risks at mealtimes by teaching children to stay seated while eating and by preventing them from running, jumping, talking, or playing with food in their mouths. A toddler should never be left alone when eating and parents and caregivers should know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver in case the toddler chokes.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2015