When Can Toddlers Eat Popcorn?

Updated on February 09, 2010
A.P. asks from Denver, CO
17 answers

Okay, I realize this is possibly the stupidist question on the page, but I'd be curious to hear answers.

My 17-month-old loves popcorn; we make it on the stovetop and usually bite off the hull part and give him the puff part, with the thinking that the hulls are sometimes hard for adults, much less kids. The stovetop stuff does have a heartier hull and can get stuck in your throat, etc. Customizing these bites of popcorn is really tedious and I'd like to just give him some popcorn, but am not sure at what point he's old enough to eat it without too much worry. Have any of you had problems with popcorn and your toddler? Maybe just making the microwave stuff will produce a more easily-chewed product.

That's all. He likes popcorn, it's a healthy snack, can I give it to him?

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answers from Denver on

Popcorn is the number one choking hazard followed by hot dogs. I found Pirate Booty to be an acceptable alternative for my kids--dissolves very quickly and is a bit better for them. The Veggie Booty even incorporates spinach--just don't tell the kids!



answers from Provo on

My 18mo old eats it just fine and has for a couple of months! Granted we are close by when she does just in case, but thankfully we've never had choking issues.

Has anyone else noticed that the choking hazard list keeps growing and the age limit keeps bumping up? 11yrs ago when I had my first there were a handful of things on it and the recommendation was to wait until age 2 or 3, but now even peanut butter is considered a choking hazard and should be given until age 3! Really people? Crazy.
It is nice to see that others are willing to actually supervise their kids and let them eat all sorts of things! :)

More Answers



answers from Denver on

My Dad loves popcorn and wanted to be able to share with my son when he came over. Although we prefer our own popped popcorn it does have much harder pieces and we don't want him to choke. So,we found a compromise. To share with my son my dad buys Orville Redenbacker's (sp?) TENDER WHITE. This type seems to be the safest we've found and the boys get to enjoy a special treat when we visit.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I was told by our doc NO popcorn until after 2 years of age. He said it was one of the biggest choking hazzards for toddlers! He says it is easily inhaled and hard to get back up because it is so light... The way my daughter eats (stuffing as much in her mouth as she can) I know for sure she would choke on it, so I am going to stear clear for some time!



answers from Boise on

Both my boys (3 and 1) have been eating it since they could chew. In the beginning I bit off the hull just like you have described but as soon as they could chew other foods, I let them have the whole piece. But I always supervise while they eat it. Test a piece or two to see if your child is ready.



answers from Colorado Springs on

I'm so glad you posted this question - I've seen so many things saying that popcorn shouldn't be given until 4 years but my 2 year old adores it. We air pop it and I take out the partially popped pieces and always sit with him while he snacks. I'd avoid the microwave kind though since I personally always seem to have problems with hulls when I do eat it - not so much with air popped. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels popcorn is a great snack for kids (and adults)!



answers from Cleveland on

Our kids all eat popcorn... they are a little older (2,4 &5) but they have been eating it for a while. We don't let eat it without us in the room... just incase they have an issue. We buy microwave & already popped sometimes.

But it is healthy, just keep an eye on him and if you feel more comfertable biting off the hard part keep doing it for a while. Never hurts to take caution when it comes to our little ones.



answers from Washington DC on

We buy the microwave popcorn and my 19 month old loves it.



answers from Indianapolis on

According to our pediatrician, they can eat something as soon as it's not a choking hazard. Our kids have been eating popcorn since around the same age as your child.

We NEVER let them have it when we're not around and try to make sure those only partially popped are removed from our 22 month old's bowl.



answers from Denver on

My daughter got a hold of pop corn at that age too. She loves "corn corn" to this day! I let her have it...I just never leave her alone when she's eating it and I make sure she is strapped down so she isn't running around.



answers from Chicago on

My 3 year loves popcorn (and its high in fiber!) and has been eating it since about your son's age. I always just make sure she isn't alone with it, so I could catch her if she does choke. I remind her one piece at a time and she does fine. Make sure you brush up on what to do if your child does choke---this knowledge can come into play at any time =) My husband and I took a simple inexpensive class at Northwestern about CPR and child safety and it was great to really know what to do if an emergency arises. That also makes me feel a bit better about her eating popcorn or other similar foods.



answers from Denver on

Mine started at 9 mo's she gummed it till she swallowed it. Not PC I know. She loves the stuff, so do we, and when she was teeny tiny and turned our backs for just a sec she had shoved her face full. She handled it fine and is around to talk about it now that she's almost 6.



answers from Denver on

MY daughter started eating popcorn at about 19 months old and loves it. It is a treat she eats with her daddy. It is a bonding moment for them. He lets her sit on the table in front of the big bowl with him on the chair sharing the giant bowl of popcorn.....so cute to watch.



answers from Phoenix on

If he's got a lot of teeth and is good at chewing most other foods without having them cut into teeny-tiny bits, I see no reason not to try giving him the whole piece. Just watch him carefully and if he does have trouble with it, wait a bit longer before trying it again. Good luck!



answers from Tulsa on

In my opinion it is a choke hazard. All it takes it a tiny peice of hull to get caught in the back of the throat. I follow these guidelines. Every one of them lists popcorn as a choke hazard until age 3.




answers from Grand Junction on

My son is 21 months old and LOVES popcorn. My friend freaked out one day, "OMG!! YOU LET HIM EAT POPCORN?" My response was, "Try to stop him!" It started with my mom. She has a really awesome popper and my boys loved to help her make popcorn. They all started pretty young, and now I have one of those awesome poppers so the tradition continues.

We have popcorn often- on movie night, or as an evening snack if we have and early dinner. I used to pull the puffy part off for him, but his patience grew thin with that, so I just supervise him and let him eat it whole. He's got molars and can chew little pieces of meat and chicken, so I figure popcorn should be a piece of cake for him.

Now, doctors will tell you that popcorn is right up there with fruit snacks and raisins as far as being a choking hazard, so I won't tell you to go ahead and give it to him, but you know if your child can handle it. I usually share my bowl with my son and make sure he doesn't shove in handfuls at a time. Just one at a time and he's fine!



answers from Great Falls on

I don't know anything about when it is safe to feed your little one popcorn, but I do know that microwave popcorn is one on the things that you should try to avoid feeding him (or eating yourself). There is all kinds of weird stuff in the powder including tons of salt and other things you don't need but the scary thing is "Popcorn lung" that is a lung disease that has increased significantly in workers of microwave popcorn factories and people that eat a lot of microwave popcorn.
The airpoppers or stove top are a lot better because they are plain. When "they" say that popcorn in a healthy snack it's NOT the flavored powered stuff. ;o)
So I just read a bit more and it usually isn't so much the EATERS of the microwave powdered butter but the workers that get sick, but still why support an industry that promotes bad health?

Next question: Had a Traumatic Popcorn Experience....