Raisins are a great option for finger foods because they are packed with nutrients. Raisins are low in fat and cholesterol and high in potassium and iron. Raisins also contain calcium and fiber, which can help a baby who is prone to constipation. Best of all, raisins are easy to pack along on car rides and outings, making them an easy and healthy snack.
While all arrows seem to point toward the benefits of raisins, they are also a choking hazard to children under the age of 4. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends that parents feed raisins to children 4 years old and older. Some parents however, feel that their children are ready for raisins by age 3, yet the ADA recommends waiting until the child’s fourth birthday. Even by age 4, raisins should be cut in half.
Raisins are choking hazards for children because of their size and chewy texture. Children are not able to chew raisins properly, which can then become lodged in the airway. Worst of all, the sticky texture of raisins make them hard to unlodge from a child's throat. Raisins are also known to cause cavities, as they contain a lot of sugar and stick to the teeth. The stickiness left on the teeth causes bacteria to grow, which in turn eats away at the enamel of the teeth. Be sure to have children brush their teeth or rinse their mouth out with water after eating raisins.
While dried raisins may pose as a choking hazard for small children under the age of 4, raisins can be introduced in other ways to younger children. Remember that before offering raisins to your baby, he must be at least 6 months old and have some experience eating other types of foods, such as cereal or mashed bananas. Other signs that your baby may be ready for raisins is when she can sit up on her own and swallow soft foods appropriately. Also look for your baby's interest in picking up things and putting them in his mouth.
To start, parents can add raisins to foods that are liquid, including applesauce or rice cereal. The raisins will soak up the liquids, which makes them softer and easier to eat. Second, raisins can be pureed and then added to foods, such as oatmeal or yogurt. Add some raisins and a few tablespoons of water in a blender and blend until smooth. For added flavor, puree the raisins with apple juice in place of water. If you find that it’s difficult to achieve a smooth consistency by pureeing raisins, soak them in water or juice first.
Keep in mind that while it’s important to take the proper precautions when serving raisins to your child, they are a great snack that are packed with vitamins and nutrients.