As your toddler stuffs another chocolate into his very brown mouth, consider some of the possibilities that accompany the foods, or non-foods, as the case may be, he has eaten so far today. First, there were the sugar puffs at breakfast, fruit snacks with no fruit at lunch, and then the popcorn you heard something about not giving him because it’s dangerous for some reason. Several types of food on the grocery store shelves for kids probably shouldn’t be, based on their sugar content alone. Others are physically dangerous in other ways.
Keep peanut butter out of the reach of your toddler if you are concerned about allergies to nuts. Although the old wisdom states that children should not have peanut butter until they are 2 or 3 years old, the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that the food has not been proven to harm children who eat it at an early age -- but it hasn't been refuted either. So, in the end, it’s your call about whether to give peanut butter to your young child.
If your child is prone to allergies, and based on a doctor’s recommendation, you might also avoid other foods that often cause food allergies like eggs until your child turns 2 and shellfish until the age of 3.
Choking hazards abound for toddlers and preschoolers at the table. Anything that could get lodged in your child’s throat is a food to avoid. Popcorn, for instance, could be a choking hazard to children as the kernels could cause them to choke. Other choking hazards include dry cereal flakes, berries, grapes, raisins, raw vegetables and hot dogs. You can feed some of these foods to your child if you cut them into smaller pieces. For example, quartering grapes makes them small enough to easily swallow.
Avoid giving your child caffeine. This can come in the form of tea, soda, coffee and chocolate. Caffeine is finding its way into other foods marketed as energy boosters as well, although it is difficult to tell how much caffeine is in them from the label, according to a National Public Radio report by Allison Aubrey in December 2012.
Caffeine gives an artificial bit of energy that she – and you – don’t need. Caffeine intake guidelines have not been set in the United States, according to KidsHealth.org, but Canadian authorities say that preschoolers should get no more than 45 mg of caffeine a day, or the amount in a 12-oz can of soda. As caffeine can cause jitters, inability to sleep, faster heartbeat, higher blood pressure and an upset stomach among other ailments, it is best to not give it to your child at all.
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