What Candy Is Safe for Toddlers?

Candy is a sweet treat that most toddlers are drawn to as often as someone is willing to give it to them. While an occasional piece of candy is unlikely to harm your toddler's overall health, regular consumption might be more damaging. Many types of candy also pose a choking hazard, and should be avoided altogether. Once you know more about candy and safety, you can determine what types, if any, you may offer your toddler.

A young boy eating cotton candy. Credit: Ridvan Celik/iStock/Getty Images

Candy

The primary drawback to feeding your toddler candy on a regular basis is the high sugar content of most varieties. According to KidsHealth, foods that are high in sugar, such as candy, usually are high in calories as well, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain over time. Candy also contains little, if any, nutrition. A high-sugar diet can increase your toddler's risk of tooth decay as well. Many brands of candy offer sugar-free options, which are a bit healthier than their sugary counterparts, but are not necessarily safer.

Choking

The risk of choking makes many types of candy off limits to your toddler. Any kind of hard candy can get lodged in your toddler's windpipe. According to BabyCenter, you should not give your child hard candies, such as peppermints and butterscotch, until he turns 4 years of age. Jelly beans are another type of candy that pose a choking hazard. Gummy candy, taffy and caramel also are dangerous because they can slip easily down your toddler's throat and cause him to choke.

Suggested Types

Soft candies are your safest bet when it comes to offering your toddler an occasional piece of candy. Chocolate-covered peppermint patties are one choice that you can cut into small pieces. Cotton candy is another type of candy that does not pose a choking hazard because it melts in your toddler's mouth. Peanut butter cups, chocolate covered cookie bars and milk chocolate bars are additional options that are not considered choking risks, as long as they are offered in small pieces.

Candy Alternatives

Once your toddler has his first taste of candy, it might be difficult to sway him to choose healthier options. Toddlers are drawn naturally to foods that taste sweet. Serve your child small pieces of fresh fruit drizzled with melted dark chocolate to increase the nutritional value of his treat while still allowing him the sweet taste he desires. These also are less likely to cause choking. Small cookies with chocolate chips are another option that pose less of a choking risk than certain types of candy.

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