When kids clamor for something sweet, a hard peppermint or butterscotch candy may seem like one of your better choices. It satisfies the sweet tooth, has no fat, and occupies a youngster for a while, all of which should make for a healthier child and a happier caregiver.
Unfortunately, the candy's hard texture is difficult for young teeth to chomp and chew. The slick surface and rounded shape can send the candy down the throat before the child realizes it.
Also, children aren't known for self-control. Sucking and savoring a piece of candy isn't nearly as gratifying as gobbling it down. As a result, hard candies are off limits for children aged 4 years and under.
A similar problem follows from the conventional wisdom of cutting raw apples, pears, carrots, and other hard fruits and vegetables into bite-sized pieces. "Bite-size" for an infant is 1/4-inch or smaller (about the size of a pea), 1/2-inch or smaller for toddlers. A safer option may be serious deconstruction: grate, shred or purée the food, or cook it until it's soft.
Next: little green bullets and more.