While good nutrition involves plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, there’s one fruit that should not be given to children 5 and under; grapes.
Uncut grapes are dangerous for young children because their size and smooth texture can cause choking and even death.
There have already been three choking cases in Scotland, out of which two turned out to be fatal, involving boys who were 5 or younger.
A report published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood notes that food is responsible for more than half of the choking incidents, which end in deaths when it comes to children under the age of 5.
"There is general awareness of the need to supervise young children when they are eating ... but knowledge of the dangers posed by grapes and other similar foods is not widespread," noted Dr. Jamie Cooper, co-author of the report, from the emergency department at Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital.
According to the same report, there is no awareness concerning the specific risks that soft fruits raise, and the relatively small numbers of cases per hospital, which occur every year, don't fully reflect the extent to which this issue can affect young children.
Kids that have choked on grapes don’t often make the news, but according to research conducted in the United States and Canada, grapes occupy third place when it comes to deaths caused by food-related incidents, after hotdogs and sweets.
There are two reasons why grapes are so dangerous, especially in very young children: first, because the airways of the children are small and their swallow reflex is not fully developed, and second due to the smooth texture of the fruit.
Other foods with similar texture can pose a choking hazard, such as tomatoes. Health experts suggest that grapes and tomatoes be cut in half twice. Anytime a child (or an adult for that matter) is eating uncut grapes or small tomatoes they should pay attention to their eating and not mechanically pop them into their mouths – like when watching TV or playing video games.
Grapes and tomatoes are good sources of fiber and healthy nutrients, just make sure that your little one has his or hers’ cut up so they are not easily choked when eating them.