Grapes are a sweet treat with loads of health benefits for kids. But the parents I work with in feeding therapy are nervous about serving them because of fears of choking. Thus, kids are not provided with the opportunity to learn, explore and eat this powerful fruit. Here are some tips to ease fears and safely introduce grapes to toddlers.
Safety: Grapes are the third most common cause of pediatric choking-related deaths, and this is due to the size, shape and texture of the grape. To prevent choking, a parent can use the following guidelines:
- Prevention: Cut grapes into quarters (pictured) for all kids ages 5 and under. Cutting in quarters is the key to choking prevention.
- Present: Be present for all meals and snacks, especially when your child is eating hotdogs, hard candy, cherry tomatoes and whole grapes. Choking is silent and quick, so being present is the key to fast reaction times and initiating first-aid if needed.
- Posture: Have your child stay seated with good posture in their chair while eating. Do not let them eat grapes while walking, running or lying down.
Snack: Grapes can stay fresh for about a week if stored correctly. I like to store grapes unwashed in a glass container in the refrigerator. I wash them right before I serve them. Grapes are a perfect snack, because they are portable and they stay fresh in a lunch box or snack bag. They are my go-to snack for road trips, movie nights or sporting events.
Skin: Grapes have a lot of nutritional benefits, and most of this nutrition is found in the skin. Encourage your child to eat the skin of the grape with these helpful ideas:
- Wet Treat: Cutting grapes in quarters also helps kids handle the sensory properties of the skin, as they can feel the soft wet flesh and the skin with each bite.
- Frozen Treat: Grapes are a delicious frozen treat! You can cut them in quarters, halves or whole (for older kids) and dip them in yogurt, chocolate or sprinkles for a cool dessert… skin and all!
- Sweet Treat: Grapes and honey are delightful together and are a perfect combination for toddlers to be introduced to salads! In over 20 years, I have only had a few kiddos turn up their nose at my Sweet Spinach and Grape Salad (pictured). Remember; spinach has over 40% protein and grapes have about 1% protein, so this is an easy way to get them a protein packed meal! Here is my recipe.
Sweet Spinach and Grape Salad
1 small bag of organic spinach
1 cup of grapes (cut in quarters)
1 cup of walnuts (crushed)
1 cup of feta cheese
½ cup of honey
Mix the spinach, grapes and walnuts together in a bowl. Sprinkle feta cheese on top and drizzle the honey over the entire mixture.
I hope these tips help you and your little ones eat and enjoy grapes safely and deliciously! Do you have any additional safety tips for grapes? In what ways do your children experience grapes? #ezpzfun #grapes #toddler
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz