What Foods Should I Avoid Giving to my Child Because of Choking?

Low section view of a baby girl eating cereal
Some foods are choking hazards. Glow Images, Inc / Getty Images

Question: What Foods Should I Avoid Giving to my Child Because of Choking?

A reader asks:

My toddler is starting to eat table food now and I need to know what I should avoid giving him so that he doesn't choke.

Answer: Avoid these foods:

  • whole grapes
  • peanuts and other whole nuts
  • hard candy
  • popcorn
  • whole olives
  • raw fruits and vegetables (like apples, pears and carrots)
  • whole, firm beans or peas
  • raisins
  • hot dogs
  • cherries with pits
  • meat and meat bones
  • dried fruit
  • caramels
  • gummy bears and other gummy candies
  • stringy foods (like steak, celery and spaghetti noodles)
  • chicken skin, potato skin and fruit peels
  • potato or corn chips
  • granola bars
  • marshmallows
  • cheese chunks

But this list isn't the be-all, end-all of avoiding choking. You should also:

Make sure that all of your child's food is cut into very small pieces. Babies have been known to choke on even the softest food like white bread and peanut butter when it's big and chunky.

Watch out for "chipmunking." This is where your child stores food in his cheeks instead of swallowing. Many children do this and this can cause choking as well.

Make sure your child is always sitting up when eating. Many cases of choking happen when a child is reclining in a bouncy seat or laying down to eat or snack.

Most importantly, stay with your child when he is eating and learn how to respond to a choking infant or child.