Marshmallows. We often associate those fluffy, sweet confections with bonfires, s’mores, and hot chocolate. But how often have we considered the potential danger they might pose to our little ones?
Well, an Australian ex-paramedic recently began to raise attention about that with a viral video that garnered over 9,400 likes to date.
Meet Nikki Jurcutz, the brains behind Tiny Hearts Education, a child safety organization. In a video posted on Instagram, the former paramedic issued a warning about the potential risks marshmallows pose to toddlers.
Yes, you read it right: marshmallows. That innocent-looking sugary treat can indeed turn into a safety concern for children under four.
According to Jurcutz, the issue lies primarily in their round shape, which can entirely block a child’s airway if swallowed whole. She explains in the video this unusual hazard through a simple demonstration using a clear plastic tube, simulating a child’s airway.
By running a grape and a chunk of marshmallow through the tube, she graphically illustrated how a marshmallow can get lodged due to its texture, particularly when wet. The wet marshmallow becomes stickier and much harder to clear than the grape.
A Risk That Many Are Unaware Of
This might come as a surprise for many who are used to hearing ‘It’s soft and easy to chew!’ when they express hesitation about feeding marshmallows to their kids.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) notes that “choking is a major cause of fatality in infants and young children” up to the age of four.
For young children, the airway to the lungs is still developing and not always blocked off when swallowing. This could result in unchewed chunks of food getting stuck there. Raw pieces of fruit and vegetables, popcorn, candy, seeds, and peanut butter are among some of the culprit foods that cause choking.
Social Media Users Reacted to The Post
Coming back to Tiny Hearts’ video, it got mixed reactions in the comments section. Many comments acknowledged the risks of these soft sweets for little children.
“I’ve witnessed this first hand as a mum turned her back to her toddler eating one, and he went downhill very fast. Had to act fast. He was ok,” said one user on Instagram.
“It’s funny how times have changed,” another person wrote. “I’ve had 6 children, with the youngest being now 12. We never had to cut fruit like grapes or not give marshmallows.”
“Shouldn’t we just educate children on how to eat foods correctly?” one user questioned.
Other comments, meanwhile, criticized the fact that babyccinos (a coffee-free drink for children) are often served with marshmallows on top.
“And yet they give a marshmallow with every babyccino. I always have to steal it,” said another user.
So… No Marshmallows for Little Kids?
Despite the potential risk that marshmallows pose for toddlers, Nikki Jurcutz suggests some ways to mitigate that.
“You can modify marshmallows to make them safer by cutting them into smaller pieces or swap them out for mini marshmallows instead,” recommends Tiny Hearts Education in the post. “Modifying foods is a great way to make foods safer for your little one.”
So, the next time you’re around the campfire, ready to roast those marshmallows, or you’re tempted to toss one to your toddler, remember Nikki Jurcutz’s advice. Smaller pieces, mini marshmallows, or even swapping out marshmallows for a safer snack could be the wiser choice. After all, a moment of caution can prevent a lifetime of regret.
I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
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