Why Kids Under the Age of 4 Should Not Eat Popcorn


Popcorn is a favorite snack for many kids and adults, and its crunchy texture and diverse flavors are just perfect for almost any occasion.

Some parents offer popcorn to their toddlers themselves, while others simply overlook the moment their kid puts a kernel into their mouth. While this snack may look innocent, it turns out it can put kids under 4 at a huge risk.

The dangerous effect a popcorn kernel can have on a toddler

While many parents are aware of choking hazards like batteries or small toys, common food-related dangers are still unknown to many moms and dads. In 2019 USA Today shared a story told by a mom of 3 kids, whose 2-year-old son had to go to the hospital after eating popcorn together with the family. The boy was coughing and had a fever. After examination, doctors found out that the boy breathed the popcorn into his lungs, which caused inflammation. Doctors removed the piece of popcorn from the child’s lungs, and this story had a positive ending. However, the boy’s mom wanted other parents to learn from this choking accident, and she wrote a warning Facebook post for other families.

Pediatricians do not recommend giving popcorn and some other products to children under 4 years old, and it’s something we all should know about.


Why 4 years old is so crucial.

According to experts, kids are at a greater risk of choking until they turn 4 years old. Only at the age of 4 are kids fully able to chew the food they eat in a proper way. This happens because, by this age, their molars erupt and their chewing skills are good enough to break the food down into smaller pieces for swallowing.

In addition, younger kids can easily get distracted by the things going on around them, which also increases their choking risk. This is why toddlers and little children should always be assisted when they are eating. Walking, running, laughing, or talking while eating, as well as eating too fast, can also lead to choking.

Some other foods that can be dangerous for little kids

Unfortunately, popcorn is not the only food that presents a choking hazard for little kids. According to pediatricians, apart from popcorn, we shouldn’t give the following foods to little children:

  • Hot dogs

  • Hard candy

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Raw carrots

  • Apples

  • Whole grapes

  • Peanut butter

  • Marshmallows and chewing gums

You can learn more about choking hazards for kids from this article written by specialists from the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you are not sure which foods you can give to your child at a certain age, you should talk to a qualified pediatrician who can give you all the necessary guidelines.

Did you know that popcorn could be dangerous for toddlers?

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