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Are Raisins Safe for Toddlers?

by Fred Decker

Raisins are a highly concentrated food, naturally packed with vitamins and minerals. Kids love them because they're also high in natural sugars. So it only makes sense to give kids raisins, since they're both sweet and healthy. Unfortunately, that doesn't hold true in the case of in the case of toddlers.

Choking Hazard

Raisins and other dried fruits are considered unsuitable for very young children because they pose a choking hazard. Small children don't yet have a full set of teeth, and the chewy, leathery texture of dried fruit presents a challenge to your little one's gums. Toddlers -- even those with plenty of teeth -- tend to swallow them whole, and there is always a risk of them getting inhaled, or sticking in the esophagus. Other common foods that present a choking hazard include nuts and seeds, hot dogs, soft bread, peanut butter, and any fruits or vegetables with a hard or firm texture.

Safe Finger Foods

There are other healthy finger foods that can be considered safe for toddlers and older children to eat. Any dry cereal that melts or turns mushy in the mouth can be safely gummed. So can soft fruits like watermelon or banana, if they are cut into small pieces. Always make sure your child is supervised when eating finger foods.

Adapting Raisins for Your Toddler

Although dry raisins straight from the package are not safe for toddlers, it is possible to prepare raisins in ways that your child can eat. The simplest method is to plump the raisins in warm water to soften them, then cut them into small pieces that your child can safely chew. Chopped plumped raisins can be incorporated into warm cereal or baked goods, for added nutrition and fiber. The softened raisins can also be pureed into a spread for bread or crackers.

Introducing Raisins and Similar Foods

Every child is different, but most authorities agree that raisins and other dried fruits can usually be added to a child's diet between the ages of three and four. By this time, their teeth are well developed, and you've had time to train them about proper chewing. This is also a safe time to begin giving children crunchier foods, like nuts or vegetables, and creamy dip. Ensure that your kids sit down to eat finger foods, because it's still possible to choke on otherwise safe foods if your child is running and playing with a mouthful of food.

About the Author

Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

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