Popsicles are a delightful frozen treat on hot, sticky days. They also are a great way to cool and numb toddlers' gums when they're teething and an acceptable food for those who are feverish or on a liquid diet. Your little one will rarely turn down a Popsicle treat. Yet, there are safety concerns about the frozen pop itself as well as the stick handles. You can take several steps to make the Popsicle a safe and delicious treat for even the youngest toddler.
Popsicles come out of the freezer as a hard, frozen food. The length is more than sufficient for a toddler to accidentally push it too far into his mouth and cause choking or gagging. As the pop softens, it is easy for a child to bite off a large piece, which can also cause choking. The Healthy Children Organization, a branch of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends cutting foods into pieces that are no bigger than 1-half inch across; younger toddlers may need even smaller pieces. Another alternative is to let the pop sit at room temperature until it is soft enough to bite off small pieces without effort. The softer consistency also could help prevent choking.
Injury from Popsicle Sticks
Hard, pointed objects, such as Popsicle sticks, can cause injury to anyone's mouth. A toddler can easily damage the roof of her mouth, the back of her throat and even her tonsils. Walking or running while eating a Popsicle is dangerous. Have your little one sit in a chair or a highchair until she finishes the frozen treat. If she is a young toddler, consider mashing a softened pop in a bowl and serve it to her with a spoon. The sticks can become soft if your toddler chews on them. Take the sticks away as soon as she finishes the treat to prevent her from getting a splinter in her mouth or being pinched by a stick that has split.
If your child has food allergies, you should check the ingredients of any product carefully before purchasing it. You can compare the ingredients listed on the box to a list of things you should avoid giving your toddler due to allergies. Each type of Popsicle has different ingredients, so there is likely to be a flavor or type that will be safe for a child with allergies. From the label you will learn, for example, that plain pops commonly have corn syrup, citric acid and artificial flavorings. Caffeine and cocoa are commonly used in fudge pops, and ice-cream filled treats typically contain milk products.
Sugary Treat Concerns
Medline Plus, a publication of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, suggests serving fewer sugary snacks to help prevent obesity and to keep your toddler on a path of healthier eating. Sugar-free Popsicles are available in several flavors. The ice-cream-filled or fudge pop flavors are also available in low-fat or fat-free options.
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