Can my baby eat popcorn?
Can your baby eat popcorn? The American Academy of Pediatrics emphatically says No! Children should not start eating popcorn until they are four years of age. Even toddlers eating popcorn should be closely monitored. Popcorn is recognized as a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. Popcorn is delicious at the movies for adults, but for your precious baby, it is a bad snack.
An American Indian popcorn folklore reports how good spirits live inside the corn kernels. These spirits only come alive when they are heated. If they were heated too much and if they were shaken, then the spirits would burst forth. Their essence would then ascend into the air leaving behind husks and kernels. Of course, we understand there is a small amount of water inside the kernels, and when heated, it puffs up.
Popcorn is made from specialized hard kernel corn. If you don’t add salt and butter, popcorn is a healthy snack. When they are popped, popcorn is a beneficial food source. Popcorn kernels contain fiber to help the digestive system. As a healthy whole grain, popcorn helps the heart. Additional benefits include magnesium, protein, vitamins like Vitamin B, and minerals.
Popcorn as a healthy snack. Popcorn helps you lose weight. It also provides energy, as well as many other health benefits. Eating popcorn is fun. Popcorn is eaten best by the handful. Albeit popcorn can easily cause choking in adults and children. There are several reasons why a baby should not eat popcorn. Let’s look at a few reasons why popcorn is not a healthy snack option for babies.
1. Choking Hazard
Children under the age of 4 experience the highest rate of food-related choking incidences. A baby’s throat features a tiny windpipe (the trachea). Their throat is still developing, making it very narrow. Even healthy food options for a baby can become lodged in the trachea, causing them to choke and stop breathing.
Popcorn is a food item where it can easily get caught in the windpipe even though it is in a bite-sized form. Babies eat like adults when we are eating popcorn. We grab a fistful of popped kernels and shove it in our mouths, which is dangerous for a baby. Your baby must gum their foods. As a result, you can’t mash up a popcorn piece enough to soften it for a baby to swallow it safely.
2. Popcorn Hull
Not only can kernels become stuck in a baby’s throat, so can popcorn hulls. You can see the hull of popcorn. It is the dark part of popcorn. It is located deep inside the popcorn. A hull is the actual outer coating of the popcorn seed. A kernel becomes popcorn, but its seed is the hull when the hull pops into smaller pieces.
These are the main parts of the popcorn sticking in your teeth. If the baby eats a hull and it does not pass the windpipe, it causes severe choking. The hull of a popcorn kernel is extremely light. Therefore, a hull can be accidentally inhaled into the esophagus or lungs, causing a baby to suffocate within seconds.
3. Unhealthy Option for Baby Diet
Even if a baby could eat popcorn, it is not the healthiest food option for their digestive system. Aside from salting it and slathering it in butter, popcorn is too fat for a baby. It is manufactured with hydrogenated oils or trans-fat whose function it is to help it pop when heated. Popcorn, even with a trace of oil within the stomach of a baby, will cause severe gastric problems.
Babies do not have the necessary enzymes and molecules needed to break down fat. The oils placed within popcorn when it is being prepared for market shelves use would act like poison to a baby. These oils would damage their liver, heart, intestines, etc.
4. Hull-less Popcorn
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a meal plan for your baby (age eight months to age 1). They suggest your baby should have three healthy meals a day. Also, included in your food scheduling are three snacks. If you would like your baby to join you in snacking on fluffy popcorn and you choose a hulless brand… don’t do it!
Popcorn without a hull is not fully hulless. The very nature of popcorn contains kernels and hulls. Yes, gourmet popcorn brands are touting their hulless prowess. However, there are minute particles of hulls still attached to the popped corn kernels. Hulless popcorn is a popular type of snack food for popcorn lovers, but its name does not mean it is safe to give them to the baby.
Not only are the contents of popcorn unhealthy for a baby, but many different packaging brands can also be harmful. Many different bags containing popcorn are lined with preservation chemicals. Normally, the chemicals are not harmful to older kids or adults. However, many chemicals used as a preservative for the popcorn kernels change their chemical makeup when heated.
Certain brands of popcorn can be quickly popped in a bag in the microwave. However, microwaving can cause a chemical change with the popcorn kernels. Parents should fix air-popped popcorn. When the kernels are heated, far fewer chemicals are released compared to microwaving popcorn. Feeding your baby one or two kernels from a microwave cooking environment is too toxic for your baby.
As you can see, the main concern in giving your baby popcorn is mainly about choking. Popcorn is such a delicious, healthy snack. But there have been reported chocking cases. Young children and even babies nearly one year of age have choked on popcorn. Your baby could choke on half-popped kernels if you spread some popcorn in front of them.
Professional pediatricians say your 4-year-old can start to eat popcorn. As a great American finger-food snack, popcorn is fun to eat, just not for your baby. As your baby begins to grow, they will join you in eating finger foods like popcorn.
Your precious baby will soon develop the ability to chew and control foods. Until your baby can eat popcorn, continue feeding them healthy meals. If you are snacking on popcorn, don’t put your dish at a level where the baby can reach up and grab a handful.