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Foods to Avoid

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 24 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Food Allergies Food Allergy Allergen

Preparing and eating meals with grandkids can be fun' but grandparents need to be mindful about certain foods that may pose risks to babies and young children. From food allergies to potential choking hazards, care must be taken to assure that mealtimes are not only pleasurable, but safe too.

Common Allergens

Although children may be allergic to any food, there are several that are the most common sources of allergies in kids. Some pediatricians now recommend that children are not given any of these foods for the first two years of life in hopes that delaying exposure to them will lessen the chances that children will experience adverse reactions. Before feeding children any questionable foods, grandparents should check with the child's parents and follow their instructions. Common food allergens for children include:
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

Children with Known Allergies

When caring for grandchildren with known food allergies, grandparents must be alert for hidden ingredients in foods. For example, while it is easy to avoid whole eggs when feeding a child with an egg allergy, eggs or egg derivatives may be contained in cookies, baked goods, casseroles, or other foods. When eating at home, food labels must be studied carefully so that the offending items can be restricted and when dining out, it is best to choose whole foods so that the ingredients are fairly obvious. Since many restaurants do not prepare meals from scratch, even the cook may not really know all of the ingredients in many of the dishes.

Allergic Reactions

Consumption of a food that a child is allergic to can cause swelling, hives, rashes, gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, or breathing difficulties. Severe reactions can result in death, so grandparents must be alert and prepared to deal with an emergency, should the need arise. Professional help should be summoned immediately in the event of an allergic reaction since rescue personnel are trained and equipped to offer lifesaving aid.

Choking Hazards

In addition to allergies, small children are prone to choking, especially when they are offered foods that are firm and round. These types of foods may lodge in the small throats of youngsters, blocking their airways. Choking is a common cause of death in children under five years of age, and a great percentage of those children are under one. Although all children (and adults) may experience a choking episode, young children are at the highest risk.

Foods to Avoid

While virtually any food can pose a risk, there are some common foods that are most often cited as risky for babies and young children. These include:
  • Popcorn
  • Grapes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Hard candies
  • Sticky sweets
  • Marshmallows
  • Melon balls
  • Hot dogs
  • Peanut butter
  • Chunks of cheese or meat

Non Food Choking Hazards

In addition to food items, children often put other things into their mouths, putting them at risk for choking. Toys with small parts, marbles, batteries, coins, pen caps, paperclips, and buttons should all be kept out of the reach of young children. Kids are naturally curious and they use all of their senses to learn about the world around them. While it is perfectly normal for them to put things into their mouths, grandparents need to be watchful when caring for their grandchildren to keep them safe.

Lowering the Risks

There is no way to completely assure the safety of children, but there are things that grandparents can do to minimize the risk of choking for their grandchildren. Be sure that low tables are free of pocket change or other small items that may be of interest to little ones, and never let young children roam unsupervised. It takes only a few unattended moments for kids locate trouble -- it is their specialty!

At mealtimes, grandparents should remember to cut food into very small pieces, about pea sized, before giving it to young children. Babies and young kids should be fed while seated safely at a table, rather than while running or playing, and kids shouldn't be allowed to eat while riding in a car. Children need to be well supervised while eating and care should be taken to assure that they eat slowly, rather than overstuffing their mouths, as children tend to do.

Handling Emergencies

Even the most responsible and careful grandparents may find themselves in charge of a child who is choking. Appropriate assistance can mean the difference between life and death, so it is a good idea for grandparents to enroll in a CPR and lifesaving class, assuring that they will know the proper techniques to lend assistance to their grandchildren in an emergency. These classes are quite affordable and require only a few hours time, but the potential benefit of being prepared is priceless.

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