Are Suckers Dangerous for Toddlers?
Suckers, also known as lollipops, seem so innocent. And from the bank to the restaurant and even the doctor's office, many businesses are eager to hand your child a lollipop to reward good behavior. Before allowing your toddler to eat the lollipop, first consider the dangers this candy can pose. In the majority of cases, a lollipop here and there is probably fine, but make sure to choose the safest ones and don't make them a regular part of your toddler's diet.
One of the primary dangers associated with lollipops is the choking risk they pose. If your toddler sucks on the lollipop too hard, it can become lodged in her airway and lead to choking. A lollipop can also lead to choking if your toddler is running around with it in her mouth, according to the KidsHealth.org. She might choke if she's playing or riding in the car while she eats a lollipop. Because most lollipops come on straight sticks, which can easily be swallowed, it's difficult to remove a lollipop if your toddler does start to choke.
When toddlers eat candy, including lollipops, on a regular basis, it puts their dental health in jeopardy. According to the American Dental Association, the foods your toddler eats can impact how healthy her teeth and gums are. The sugar in lollipops can contribute to an increased risk for decay and cavities because it sticks to your toddler's teeth and encourages the formation of plaque. Hard candy like lollipops can also increase your toddler's risk of broken teeth, particularly if she tends to bite the lollipop rather than suck on it.
While the sugar in an occasional lollipop isn't likely to cause cavities on its own, sugar-free lollipops are a better option. Sugar-free versions are available at most large supermarkets, and many dentists' offices sell them as well. Keep in mind, however, that sugar-free lollipops pose the same choking risk as regular lollipops. If you're looking for a lollipop that reduces the risk of choking, opt for those that have looped handles instead of straight sticks. The loops are large enough that your toddler won't be able to ingest the lollipop and choke on it. The loops are made from soft plastic or paper so they fold and bend easily, which also reduces the risk of choking.
Tips and Considerations
Limit your toddler's intake of lollipops and other types of candy simply because they aren't nutritious. Even sugar-free lollipops don't supply any key vitamins and minerals. If your toddler does have a lollipop, monitor her closely the entire time she's eating it. If the stick begins to fray or come apart, take the lollipop away. If she tends to bite small pieces off the lollipop, take it away to reduce her risk of choking or damaging her teeth.