when can kids have popcorn

When Can Kids Have Popcorn: A Safety Guide for Parents

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Movie time can be a magical thing for our little ones and a lot of parents ask the question “when can kids have popcorn?” Today, we’re going to talk about the beloved snack that many of us enjoy (present company included): popcorn. More importantly, we’ll discuss when it’s safe to introduce popcorn to our little ones and how to handle choking hazards. Remember to always call 911 in the event of an emergency!

Why Is Popcorn a Safety Concern for Young Children?

Popcorn is a choking hazard for young children, mainly because of its size, shape, and texture. The hard, un-popped kernels can lodge in a child’s airway, while the light, fluffy texture of popped corn can make it difficult for them to chew and swallow properly.

This poses a serious risk, especially for kids under the age of four.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), choking is the leading cause of injury and death among children, particularly those younger than three years old.

A study by the AAP found that between 2001 and 2009, over 100,000 children in the United States were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal choking episodes related to food (source: AAP).

When Can Kids Have Popcorn?

When it comes to giving your child popcorn, safety should always be a top priority. While there’s no hard and fast rule, experts generally agree that children under the age of four should not be given popcorn due to the risk of choking.

It’s important to assess your child’s chewing and swallowing abilities before introducing popcorn, and always supervise them while they eat. If you’re unsure about when to introduce popcorn to your child, consult with your pediatrician for personalized guidance.

However, it’s essential to remember that each child is unique and develops at their own pace. When considering introducing popcorn to your child, consider their chewing and swallowing abilities, as well as their overall development.

If you still have any concerns on when your child can have popcorn, it’s always a good idea to consult your pediatrician for personalized guidance.

What to Do in Case of a Choking Incident

No parent ever wants to think about their child choking, but it’s crucial to be prepared in case of an emergency. Here are step-by-step instructions on what to do if your child is choking:

  1. Stay calm: Panicking will not help the situation. Take a deep breath and remain as calm as possible to provide the best care for your child.
  2. Determine if your child is choking: If your child is coughing forcefully, let them continue to cough to try and expel the object. However, if they cannot cough, cry, or breathe, they are choking, and you need to act quickly.
  3. Call for help: If you’re not alone, have someone call emergency services while you attend to your child. If you’re alone, start first aid and call for help after one minute if the object has not been dislodged.
  4. Administer back blows: For infants under one year old, place the baby face-down on your forearm, supporting their head and neck with your hand. Give up to five forceful back blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand.
  5. Administer chest thrusts: For infants, turn them face-up on your forearm, supporting their head and neck. Place two fingers on the center of their breastbone and give up to five quick chest thrusts.
  6. Alternate between back blows and chest thrusts: Continue alternating between the two until the object is dislodged or the child starts breathing again. If the child loses consciousness, start CPR and have someone call emergency services, if they haven’t already.
  7. Monitor your child: Even if the object has been dislodged and your child appears to be fine, it’s essential to have them checked by a healthcare professional to ensure there are no complications or injuries.

For older children (above one year old) and adults who are choking, perform the Heimlich maneuver:

  1. Stand behind the person: Position yourself behind the choking individual, either standing or kneeling, depending on their height.
  2. Wrap your arms around their waist: Place your arms around the person’s waist, slightly above their navel.
  3. Form a fist with one hand: Make a fist with one hand, and place the thumb side against the middle of the person’s abdomen, above the navel but below the ribcage.
  4. Grasp your fist with your other hand: Use your other hand to hold onto your fist, preparing to apply inward and upward pressure.
  5. Perform abdominal thrusts: Give quick, forceful upward thrusts using both hands. Continue these abdominal thrusts until the object is dislodged, or the person starts breathing again.
  6. Call for emergency help: If the object is not dislodged after several attempts, call emergency services. Even if the object is dislodged, and the person appears fine, it is still advisable to seek medical attention to ensure there are no complications or injuries.

How to Prevent Choking Hazards with Popcorn

Prevention is always better than a cure. When your child is old enough to enjoy popcorn safely, follow these tips to minimize the risk of choking:

  1. Remove un-popped kernels: Before serving popcorn, carefully go through it and remove any un-popped kernels or partially popped pieces.
  2. Supervise snack time: Always keep an eye on your child while they’re eating, especially when they’re enjoying a snack like popcorn.
  3. Encourage mindful eating: Teach your child to take small bites, chew their food thoroughly, and avoid talking or laughing with their mouth full.
  4. Cut popcorn into smaller pieces: For younger children, consider breaking the popcorn into smaller, more manageable pieces.
  5. Serve popcorn as part of a meal: Rather than offering popcorn as a standalone snack, consider incorporating it into a meal, such as a trail mix or salad topping. This can encourage your child to eat more slowly and mindfully.


As parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure our children’s safety, even during snack time. By being aware of the risks associated with popcorn and taking the necessary precautions, we can help prevent choking incidents and keep our little ones safe. Remember to consult with your pediatrician before introducing popcorn to your child and always be prepared to act in case of a choking emergency.

About the Author


Hi there! I'm Jason, the proud dad behind Bearbino. This site was created out of my love for my children and dedication as their father to ensure their safety and well-being as best as I can. I'm thrilled to share with you these guides, resources, and tips that will hopefully help you keep your family and home safe, secure, and filled with fun.

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