Everyone is at risk of getting food poisoning. However, babies and toddlers have a higher risk and once young children get food poisoning, they have a hard time getting well. You can always avoid food poisoning with the following simple steps.
Preparing And Handling Food Safely
Young children are vulnerable to food poisoning because they don’t have strong immune systems to fight any foodborne infections. According to CDC, children under 3 years of age have a higher rate of hospitalization than those above 3 years of age. That’s why you need to prepare and handle food safely when feeding younger children.
When feeding young children, you need to avoid the following:
- Unpasteurized dairy products such as milk or cheese
- Foods that contain raw eggs or partially cooked or raw eggs
- Undercooked or raw poultry or meat
- Undercooked or raw shellfish or fish
- Raw sprouts
- Unpasteurized juices
Other foods you should avoid giving your child include the following:
- Honey – Give it your child after they turn 1. It contains spores of toxic bacterium that causes botulism, a very sever foodborne illness. The bacterium is often found in soil and children under the age of 1 can’t process it properly.
You should also avoid feeding babies their food right from the jar. Double dipping introduces bacteria from the child’s mouth into the food through the spoon. The bacteria might grow in the leftovers causing food poisoning. Rather, it’s advisable to remove the food from the jar and place it in a feeding dish and feed your child from it. Any jars of baby food that haven’t come into contact with the baby’s saliva should be capped and refrigerated under 40 degrees F or below.
Additionally, you should save:
- Any opened strained fruits for 2 or 3 days
- Strained meats for 1 day
- Meat and vegetable combinations for 2 days
Note that, unopened jars of baby food have the same shelf-life as other types of canned food.
Pre-schoolers, toddlers and babies have a very high risk of choking. That’s because their teeth are not strong enough to chew tough food into smaller and digestible particles. To prevent your child from choking, you should avoid giving children under 4 years of age the following:
- Small Hard Foods – Popcorn, nuts, dry flake cereal, pretzels, seeds, chips, raw peas, raw carrots, raw peeled apples, raw carrots, cherries with pits, cherry tomatoes, pear slices and whole kernel corn. Break these foods into smaller pieces for toddlers rather than giving them whole pieces.
- Slippery Foods – Poultry, large pieces of meats, grapes, cough drops or lollipops. You should chop meat, grapes, poultry or any other food into smaller pieces.
- Sticky Foods – Such as gum, marshmallows, peanut butter, jelly beans, taffy, gummy candies, fruit leathers or peanut butter.
You should always practice safety at all times when feeding your children. You should give toddlers finger foods such as cheese, bagels, banana pieces or graham crackers strips. You should always watch young children when they are eating. You should force your children to sit down when drinking or eating rather than running, lying down or walking. Encourage your children to take their time and chew their food properly. You should always look for warning labels on all foods, especially those with high choking risks. You should be prepared to provide first aid whenever your child is choking.
Amila Gamage Wickramarachchi is the founder of this blog where she shares her parenting and lifestyle experiences. She is an engineer and a trainer who works in the construction industry. She is the founder of Sihela Consultants.(www.sihelaconsultants.com)