Finger Food Safety – Growing Together Newsletter

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Finger foods can be a great way to engage young children into developing fine motor skills in their hands and practice math skills like counting. However, it is important to use caution with finger foods for young children in order to prevent items from being lodged in the child’s airway. 

Children ages 4 and under are at a higher risk for choking. They are still developing the skills needed to chew and swallow food safely. When serving small foods and cutting foods into small sizes, use caution and watch over the child to ensure they are chewing and swallowing the foods safely.

(More tips in the Growing Together Newsletter. Scroll to the bottom of the post to find it.)

Common Choking Hazards:

  • Fruit snacks
  • Cheese cubes
  • Grapes
  • Hot dogs (cut into rounds)
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Marshmallows
  • Chewing gum
  • Nut butters by the spoonful
  • Tube shaped foods (noodles, hot dogs, cheese sticks)

Here are a few tips for finger food safety:

  • The size of a child’s throat is about the size of a nickel. Avoid cutting foods into round nickel sized pieces. 
  • Small round foods are a high risk for choking. Think grapes and cherry tomatoes. Cut these foods into quarters (in half and then in half again) that are no bigger than ½ inch. 
  • Cut tube shaped foods (hot dogs & cheese sticks) lengthwise and into short pieces. Avoid cutting these foods into round pieces. 
  • Steam hard vegetables like carrots until they are soft 
  • Remove peels and seeds from fruits or vegetables 
  • Remove bones from meat, poultry, and fish
  • Allow plenty of time to eat (don’t rush). 
  • Eat while sitting at the table where they can be looked after (not in the car or walking around). 
  • Remind children to swallow their food before talking or laughing. 
  • Young children look to role models. Model how to safely eat at the dinner table for them. 

There is a great article in the Growing Together newsletter for this month on finger food safety as well as other interesting topics. As always there is also a calendar of fun activities that encourage child development and skills. 

Click below to download the Growing Together Newsletter for February 2024:

 Feb24 GT Newsletter