Celery is one of those dream foods for parents. Although not as full of nutrients as other green vegetables, celery makes for a healthy snack as it contains small amounts of many vitamins and minerals, is low in calories and cleans the mouth and teeth. Additionally, kids love it because of the crunchy texture. While all vegetables contain some risk of contamination with Salmonella or E. coli, celery is not a high-risk food for causing illness. Nonetheless, its shape and texture can cause a choking hazard for children, but there are many ways to mitigate its dangers.
A wide stalk of celery with a hard texture can cause children to choke if not chewed properly. The doctors at Kid's Health recommend not feeding whole, raw celery sticks to children under the age of four. If your toddler does eat a celery stick and begins choking, knowing first aid is an important first step for dislodging the piece of food.
Cut Up Celery Stalks
Preparing celery in a safe way will give your toddler the benefits of celery while eliminating the choking hazard. Cut it up into pieces, the smaller the better. If your toddler is averse to the taste of celery, offer him something to dip it in, such as hummus or ranch dressing. Create your own version of Ants on a Log by putting peanut butter and one or two raisins on each tiny chunk of celery.
Add Chopped Celery to Other Dishes
Diced celery makes an excellent addition to other foods your toddler already eats, as long as the pieces are small enough to be safe. Add small chunks of celery to an omelet, giving your toddler the double dose of protein and vitamins. Cook celery into a soup or rice dish that your toddler will love. If your child is eating salad, add small pieces of celery and creamy salad dressing.
Show Your Toddler Safety
Reduce the choking dangers of celery by showing your toddler how to practice food safety. Eat small pieces of celery with your child, demonstrating how to chew properly. Explain to your toddler why foods such as celery can be dangerous, and how eating quickly or not chewing enough can make him choke. Ensure that your toddler always eats in a safe environment. Do not allow your toddler to eat celery while riding in the car or while running around. Show your child how to call for help if he starts to choke. Make sure that babysitters and older siblings know not to give celery sticks to your toddler when he is not being supervised.