The Most Common Choking Foods (And How To Safely Feed Them To Your Baby)

Learn how to safely prepare common choking hazard foods to lessen baby's choking risk, which choking hazard foods you should always avoid feeding your baby, and how to safely introduce peanut to babies as early as 4-6 months of age.

When baby starts to eat solids, they need practice to build their munching and chewing skills. After all, their munching and chewing reflexes are learned, not innate.

Since baby is still learning to chew, you'll need to watch out for choking hazard foods. This is especially true if you're doing baby-led weaning, where baby largely eats finger foods.

Hard, round, chunky, and slippery foods are dangerous to feed baby when you start weaning, because baby isn't able to chew them properly. The same goes with food pieces that are too large. These types of foods put baby at increased risk of choking.

Learn more about food and nonfood choking hazards from Nurse Dani of Intermountain Moms:

But often, whether a food is a choking hazard comes down to how that food is prepared.

Some healthy foods that fall into the "choking hazard" categories can still be introduced to baby in a safer way.

And in the case of peanut, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) advises that it's crucial to introduce peanut to your little one in a baby-safe form, as early as 4-6 months of age.

Introducing these foods safely will help baby choose and love these healthy foods later in life, without putting them at increased risk of choking.

Here's how to safely introduce certain healthy foods to your baby, so they won’t be choking hazards.

We’ll also cover choking hazard foods to always avoid feeding baby, and how you can introduce peanut safely when baby is as young as 4-6 months old.

Choking Hazard Foods That Can Be Modified

You can modify many initially dangerous foods to lower baby's choking risk, by:

  • Cooking them to soften them
  • Cutting them up so they aren't too round or too big
  • Cutting them into long, thin strips, where possible

( For more on reducing baby's choking risk while eating, don't miss our guide to gagging vs. choking during baby-led weaning.)

The following "choking hazard" foods can be modified so they're safe to introduce to baby.

1. Carrots

Carrots are dangerously hard for your baby when raw.

Only feed your baby carrots that have been well-cooked.

To safely feed carrots to your baby as a finger food, cook them until they are very soft--- soft enough to be easily mashed between your fingers. Then, slice them lengthwise so they're in a long, thin strip.

2. Apples

Apples are too hard for baby to eat raw, and their skin could also pose a choking hazard.

To make apples safer for baby, first core the apples, get rid of the seeds, and remove the skins.

Then, cook the apples until they're soft enough that you can mash them between your fingers. Finally, cut them into long, thin strips.

3. Other hard fruits and vegetables

Cook other harder fruits and vegetables, like celery, green beans, and broccoli, before feeding them to baby as a finger food.

Then, cut the cooked fruit or vegetables into long, thin strips, so baby can easily pick them up and manage them.

4. Strawberries

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that you should avoid giving your baby foods that are larger than ½ inch in size, to help prevent choking.

This includes whole strawberries. To safely feed baby strawberries as a finger food, cut the berries into quarters.

5. Raspberries and blackberries

These berries aren't as large, but they're round enough to put baby at risk for choking when they're served whole.

So, cut blackberries and raspberries in half or in quarters before serving.

6. Blueberries

Even though blueberries are soft, they are too round to serve whole.

Cut them in half or quarters, or smash them, to keep baby safe.

7. Cherries

Whole cherries are too big and round for babies --- and they contain a hard pit.

To safely serve cherries to baby, make sure you select cherries that don't have tough skin. Then, remove the stem and pit, and cut each cherry into quarters.

8. Grapes, grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes

Don't feed your baby these foods whole, as their roundness poses a choking hazard.

Instead, cut grapes, grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes in quarters before serving.

9. Meatballs

Whole meatballs are also a choking hazard for baby because they're too round.

But crumbling up the meatballs provides a safer way to introduce them, whether they're made of ground beef, ground chicken, or ground turkey.

10. Chunks of meat

Chunks of meat are a choking hazard for babies --- especially since some meat isn't tender enough for babies to chew. But there are ways to serve meat safely.

Cook meat until it's tender.

If baby can't tear with their teeth yet, serve meat in strips the width of two adult fingers, for baby to suck out the juices from.

But for babies who can tear with their teeth, you'll need to switch to another serving option to help prevent choking. Once baby is more skilled at biting, serve meat shredded, or in bite-size pieces.

11. Block or cubed cheese

Never feed baby cheese in cubes.

Stick to long, ruler-thin slices of cheese (or shredded cheese) to help prevent choking.

12. Beans and chickpeas

Before serving beans and chickpeas to baby, make sure they're cooked very soft and smashed to reduce baby's choking risk.

Choking Hazard Foods That Should Always Be Avoided

There are other common choking hazard foods that you should always avoid feeding babies. You can't modify these foods to make them safer.

Avoid feeding baby these common choking hazards:

  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Chips
  • Hot dogs
  • Raisins and other dried fruit pieces
  • Candies --- babies shouldn't have added sugar anyway!
  • Honey
  • Raw seeds (such as sunflower seeds)
  • Whole nuts (any type)
  • Chunky nut butters

How To Safely Introduce Peanut To Babies?

In their new set of guidelines for introducing allergens, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) recommends that in order “to prevent peanut...allergy, peanut...should be introduced around 6 months of life, but not before 4 months.”

But peanuts pose one of the greatest choking hazards if they aren’t prepared properly.

There are many forms of peanuts that are unsafe for babies, because of the choking risk.

  • Never feed baby whole peanuts, and never feed baby chunky peanut butter. These forms of peanut are choking hazards for all children under the age of 4.
  • Smooth peanut butter also poses a choking risk for children under age 4, because it's too lumpy. So, never feed baby smooth peanut butter unless you water it down (thin it).

Since peanut butter is largely unsafe for babies, how can you safely introduce peanuts to babies, and follow the AAAAI guidelines?

The AAAAI recommends several baby-safe ways to introduce peanut.

Watered down, smooth peanut butter is one safe option mentioned in the guidelines. But with this option, it may be hard to know if baby is getting enough exposure to peanut to follow the AAAAI guidelines.

The AAAAI also recommends peanut flour or peanut powder as other ways to introduce peanut.

And Ready. Set. Food! provides a safe, easy way to introduce peanut to your baby in powder form, following the AAAAI guidelines.

"Peanut-containing products, such as powders/flours… have...been used as safe forms of peanut for infants. Thinned, natural peanut butter or peanut flour (powder) is preferred as early weaning food.” --- AAAAI Guidelines

Ready. Set. Food!: Safely introduce peanut (plus other allergens) to baby

Ready. Set. Food! lets you safely and easily introduce peanut (plus other allergens) to your baby, using pre-measured packets. The amount of peanut we use aligns with AAAAI guidelines, so you'll never have to worry about introducing too little (or too much) peanut.

Ready. Set. Food! only contains organic, non-GMO food powders, with no added sugar or salt, and no artificial additives. It’s recommended by over 1,000 pediatricians and allergists.

And since our Stage 1 and Stage 2 packets mix with a bottle of breastmilk or formula, you can safely introduce peanut (plus egg and milk) to any baby as early as 4-6 months of age. So, you'll be able to follow the AAAAI guidance, even if baby is not yet ready for solids.

Plus, since Ready. Set. Food! contains no added sugar, our system aligns with the new USDA Dietary Guidelines for babies and toddlers.

Start your baby's journey towards food freedom today with Ready. Set. Food!

Introduce Allergens Safely and Easily with Ready. Set. Food!

Jessica Huhn is a Content Writer for Ready. Set. Food!

All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.