Baby carrots are made by cutting larger carrots into smaller, fairly uniform pieces. The baby carrots come peeled, making them a simple and convenient way to add carrots to your child's diet. Don't just plunk a few baby carrots on a plate and ask him to eat up, however. Because of their small size, baby carrots can be choking hazards, and they need to be washed to prevent the possible spread of bacteria. Taking the appropriate precautions will keep your child safe.
Whole baby carrots pose a choking hazard when they're served to children who are preschool age or younger, according to the MyPlate.gov website. Baby carrots are about the size of your child's entire throat, so if a whole one gets caught, it can get lodged in her airway and restrict breathing. Further, baby carrots are so hard that babies and toddlers often don't have enough teeth to chew them up well and most preschoolers also don't have the oral dexterity necessary to chew the carrots appropriately, the HealthyChildren.org website reports.
Washing and Serving
Fresh vegetables are a necessary part of your child's diet. They supply essential vitamins and minerals that help protect her health. Carrots in particular contain healthy doses of vitamin A for healthy eyes and fiber to promote normal digestion. Baby carrots can be contaminated with bacteria or germs present in the soil where they're grown and they can also become contaminated during the harvesting process, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Baby carrots that aren't stored in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, as well as ones that are bruised or browned, are more likely to carry bacteria that can cause food borne illnesses such as E.coli and salmonella. Washing and scrubbing the carrots before you eat them can help get rid of dangerous bacteria.
Many consumers falsely believe that the chlorine used to wash baby carrots is harmful. While baby carrots, like all fresh produce, are rinsed in water that contains chlorine, they aren't rinsed in a chlorine bath as a widely circulating email suggested in the early 2000s. Once baby carrots are washed with the water that contains chlorine, which kills bacteria, they are rinsed with plain water to get rid of the chlorine, according to the Dole website. The same email suggested that the white residue that baby carrots can grow is because of chlorine contamination. However, the whitish appearance baby carrots can get occurs when they're getting old, dry and past their prime, and not from being rinsed in chlorine.
If you feed your toddler or preschooler baby carrots, slice them into thin strips instead of round slices to help prevent choking. Steam the carrots before giving them to your child so they're softer and easier to chew. Always rinse baby carrots thoroughly before serving them, as well. Discard carrots that have started to get soft or browned. You should also toss baby carrots that have dried out so much that they're turning white. Keep baby carrots refrigerated until you're ready to eat them, too, recommends the FDA.