It may be adorable when your little sprout wants to sample everything that is on your plate, but parents must take precautions to protect their children from choking accidents. Not all foods are safe for all ages -- the New York Department of Health states that at least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the United States. Although your tot is becoming a competent eater, introducing nuts to your child’s diet should be done cautiously and under a watchful eye.
Children 12 to 36 Months
Toddlers up to 36 months old are at a high risk of choking on any chunk of food that is larger than a pea. While you can cut vegetables, meats and cheeses into tiny pieces, you should avoid all types of hard foods like nuts. Even if a child does not choke on a sliver of a nut, it can get trapped in his airway and cause an infection, according to BabyCenter.com. Spread nut butters, such as peanut butter or almond butter, thinly on a piece of bread or a cracker to make swallowing easier.
Children 3 to 5 Years
Preschool-age children are capable eaters, generally sampling a wide variety of foods and textures. Chopped nuts are acceptable at this age if the child is supervised while eating. Whole nuts are still risky to children under 5, and should be avoided completely. In the meantime, continue to cut up foods like hot dogs and grapes to prevent potential choking dangers.
As your child grows and can eat more foods, including chopped and whole nuts, take precautions and maintain supervision regarding when and where she eats meals and snacks. Avoid letting her eat while you are distracted and driving in the car. Do not allow your child to eat while watching television, playing or walking around the house, since distracted eating can lead to choking.
Introduce nuts to your child’s diet carefully, especially when it comes to looking for allergic reactions. Though you do not have to space out introducing new foods to preschoolers like you do with infants, it can be wise to wait a few days after starting nuts or nut products to watch for an adverse reaction. Possible allergic symptoms to nuts include difficulty breathing, tummy ache, vomiting, hives and swelling, according to KidsHealth.com. Always call your pediatrician or 911 if you think your child is having an allergic reaction to nuts or another food.