Popcorn is a snack that is loved by people of all ages. From teenagers to adults, everyone enjoys a big bowl of popcorn. But popcorn can be dangerous for young children. It is actually a major choking hazard and not a snack that should be given out to immature chewers. 

If you are eating popcorn, you may wonder if your young kids can enjoy the tasty snack, too. We will go over the appropriate age for children to start eating popcorn and a few more safety tips to help everyone in your family enjoy popcorn freely. Let’s dive in!

When Can Toddlers Eat Popcorn?

Popcorn is quite small and also can be scratchy or difficult to chew. It is not a snack that new eaters or immature chewers should be eating. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that young children do not consume popcorn until they are at least 4 years old. 

While many 2-year-olds may be eating a lot of different foods, they still do not have a lot of chewing experience. Most foods given to young kids are soft and easy to swallow. Kids may actually not fully chew small pieces of popcorn and try to swallow before the snack is completely mashed. This can be a serious choking hazard. 

Additionally, unpopped popcorn kernels can also block a child’s airways, causing a choking incident as well.  Waiting until kids are 4 years old to enjoy popcorn will give them time to learn how to chew properly. By four, kids should also have developed molars which are essential for fully chewing popcorn. It is a good idea to take the pediatrician’s advice and only give popcorn to kids over the age of four. 

Is Popcorn A Healthy Snack for Older Children?

Once children are older and “professional” chewers, popcorn may quickly become their favorite snack. Imagine getting to eat popcorn for the first time! That crunchy, buttery, salty taste would surely be irresistible to any new popcorn eaters! But is popcorn a healthy snack for kids?

Popcorn can be healthy when it is made correctly. Air-popped popcorn is very healthy as it has no oil added. It is low in calories and fats. Popcorn with lots of salty seasonings or greasy toppings may not be the best choice if you are concerned about your kid’s health. 

Small, handfuls of popcorn are a great snack, even if it has some seasonings added on. Be sure to serve your kid’s popcorn in moderation and you can feel good about giving them such a nutritious snack. 

If your kids are still too young for popcorn, consider giving them rice cakes, peanut butter puffs, or just some tasty crackers. These snacks are a little more kid-friendly but still have a popcorn-style vibe!

Can Children be Allergic to Popcorn?

Popcorn is made from corn and corn is not typically a high-allergy food. However, it is still possible for kids to be allergic to popcorn. Since corn is a very common ingredient in many other foods, you will likely know if your child has a corn allergy long before they are old enough for regular popcorn. However, you may still want to check with your doctor or allergist if you are worried about your young child eating popcorn for the first time. 

Your doctor will likely discuss the signs of an allergy and what to look for. Common allergy symptoms include skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, swelling, and also pale skin. Hopefully, your child experiences none of these and can freely eat popcorn anytime they’d like!

What Other Snacks to Avoid for Young Children

Popcorn isn’t the only food that can pose a choking risk for young kids. Here are a few other foods you may want to avoid until your kids are over the age of four and more experienced chewers:

  • Hard candies
  • Hot dogs
  • Marshmallows
  • Chewing gum
  • Whole grapes

When preparing a snack for little kids, always remember that they need smaller, bite-sized pieces of food. Not only are small foods easier to chew and process, but they are also easier to digest. Foods like hot dogs and grapes are actually okay once they are cut into small pieces. However,  gum, hard candies, and sticky marshmallows should really just be avoided until those big kid molars are fully developed! 

Start Snacking the Right Way with Popsmith

While we wish everyone could eat popcorn all the time, it is a good idea to wait until kids are over the age of four to enjoy this tasty snack. Make sure your kids do not have a corn allergy before handing them a big bowl of crunchy popcorn. Then, once all your worries are gone and the whole family is ready to eat popcorn together, come back here to our site to find lots of snacking inspiration. 

We at Popsmith have tons of articles about popcorn snacks and popcorn in general. There is a lot to this delicious, addictive snack!