If you’ve recently popped up some popcorn and have noticed that it’s bite sized, you might be thinking that your baby would like some too.
Popcorn is definitely tasty, but most of us don’t like the thought of eating air-popped kernels without any butter or salt on them. That’s the way to make it healthy, but it doesn’t address the choking concern. And since most of us are probably not eating that kind of popcorn, it’s probably not the kind that we’re considering for baby.
Did you hear that popcorn contains polyphenols and you’re trying to get them into your baby’s diet? There are plenty of other foods that have these in them, such as grapes and berries, and don’t provide the drawbacks that are inherent with most popcorn.
Can I Give My Baby Popcorn? Answer: No.
There just isn’t any pressing reason to give your baby popcorn, and it falls under the category of foods to avoid giving them. It’s tough to swallow, and most brands are packed with preservatives, fats, hydrogenated oils, and tons of salt. While it may be your movie time treat, it’s not something you want to get into the habit of giving to your baby.
The choking hazard for popcorn extends to adults as well. Popcorn has a way of drying up the mouth, and the raggedy edges and kernels have a way of getting stuck in the teeth and gums, as well as making it hard to swallow. Your baby doesn’t have all of those teeth to crunch and mash it up as good as an adult can, so they’d be relying on gumming it up and will end up swallowing it before it’s fully softened and broken down.
Butter and Salt Concerns
Any good popcorn is going to have a large amount of butter and salt added to it for flavor. In fact, most microwave popcorn comes in “Movie Theater Butter” flavor or something akin to this. You can bet it’s going to be buttery and oily and loaded with salt. Sodium is one of the major things to watch out for in your child. NPR did a great write up on watching your baby’s sodium levels.
Not From the Microwave
Aside from having to choke it down and it being high in fat and sodium, there’s not really much that microwave popcorn brings to the table. The wholesomeness of corn has been zapped out of it. The microwaving has eradicated any nutrients it might have contained, and research has shown that the bag’s lining is laced with chemicals that can cause various types of cancer. You might want to think twice about eating microwave popcorn yourself, let alone giving it to your baby.
Once They’re a Kid
When they’re old enough to have popcorn, BabyCenter says from 4 years on, be sure that it’s made at home the old fashioned way, on the stove top with ingredients that you’ve selected. That way you avoid all of the bad things that popcorn can bring with it, and you can give your child a wholesome snack that isn’t loaded with “butter flavored” topping and industrial-grade salt.
It’s good to develop a list of go-to snacks that your baby can enjoy, and that actually provide more benefit for them without the risk of choking. With all of these snacks, going organic is best, since you’ll avoid the use of additives and unknown substances and all ingredients will be naturally sourced.
One way that has proven successful is to keep a food journal of every new food your baby tries. Then notate how they responded, and what they seem to like best. As their palate widens, you can start to combine their favorites and eventually you’ll come up with complex superfoods that they enjoy, but that are also good for them and provide a new taste sensation.
So even though it might be hard to delay giving your baby popcorn, as long as you have a nice-sized list of snack foods that your baby enjoys you’ll never be at a loss for what to give them between their regular meals, or when everyone is enjoying a snack break.