As a child day care center owner, your first order of duty is to keep the children in your care safe. Within the scope of child safety, your daycare business must consider which foods are potentially dangerous to small children. Toddlers are at risk for choking and severe allergic reactions caused by food. Daycare providers must select foods that are healthy and safe for toddlers and avoid those that present potential choking hazards.
Be careful or avoid the following types of hazardous foods for toddlers:
Large chunks of food: Foods for toddlers should be the size of a pea for firm items and the size of a marble for softer items. Anything larger can become lodged in the child’s throat. Dice large items like hot dogs, carrots, and celery. Soft cook and chop melons and apples. Mash bananas instead of slicing them. Quarter cherry tomatoes, grapes, and strawberries. Shred or chop meat and cheeses into very small pieces.
Peanut butter and other nut butters: Peanut butter causes a choking hazard because it gets stuck to the roof of the mouth and throat and can be hard to swallow. To serve peanut butter to toddlers, avoid serving it in large globs. Instead spread peanut butter thinly on toast or crackers.
Soft, sticky foods: Kids love gummy bears, gum drops, and marshmallows.However, these foods can easily get stuck in a toddler’s throat.
Small, hard foods:Hard, small candies like Skittles, nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews, etc.), popcorn, raisins, seeds and dried fruit pose a huge choking hazard for small children.
Foods that commonly cause allergies: 4 out of 100 children have a food allergy, according to recent studies by the National Center for Health Statistics. The most common food allergies in young children are caused by cow’s milk, eggs, tree nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, walnuts, etc.), soybeans, peanuts, and wheat.Be sure to ask parents for complete and thorough information about their child’s allergies including foods to avoid, cross-sensitivities, usual treatment and emergency numbers.
For good measure, avoid the foods on this list of worst foods for toddlers:
- Chucks of cheese
- Large chunks of raw veggies
- Chewing gum
- Hard candy
- Dollops of peanut butter
- Sticky candy
- Hot dogs
- Large chunks of fruit
Children must always be supervised while eating meals and snacks. Potential child care workers: when applying for childcare jobs, be sure that that you have CPR and First Aid certifications. Child care business owners: Be sure that all staff is CPR and First Aid certified and that that each staff member’s certifications remain current.
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