How to Prevent Your Toddler from Choking on a Road Trip

When young children are eating, especially while traveling in cars, we have to pay close attention to the foods that can pose a choking hazards. While food seems like an easy way to keep children entertained while strapped into their car seat, be cautious with your choices. 

One expert advises avoiding car snacks altogether: “I always recommend that my families have their children eat while sitting, and avoid giving toddlers food while in the car,” says Dr. Lisa Dana. 

If you really need to give your kid a snack on the road, check out our breakdown of the most common foods that could pose a risk for little kids, but can usually be offered in safer ways. These are the ones you should pay close attention to for children under the age of four, however, keep in mind the chewing abilities and disposition of your own child when serving any other foods. For instance, if your toddler usually stuffs a lot of food into their mouths, think about much smaller amounts of food at a time, especially when they are in the car, to help them learn to pace themselves. 

Whole Nuts

Peanuts, almonds and cashews can be more difficult to chew, and children are prone to swallowing them whole. Go for safer versions such as a nut or seed butter spread on lightly toasted bread, or mix them into a smoothie.

Watch out—you should avoid giving young toddlers and babies straight spoonfuls of nut butter. It can be too difficult for them to move these dense, pasty foods around their mouths. (Same goes for large mouthfuls of yams, potatoes and other starchy, dense foods.)

Hot Dogs

Because hotdogs are dense and circular, they could get stuck in your child’s throat when sliced in rounds. Make sure to chop the hotdog lengthwise into halves (or even quarters) before slicing into chunks.

Whole Grapes

Slice grapes vertically in half or quarters so that the pieces are long and skinny and easy to chew.

Crunchy Snack Foods

Use your intuition and common sense, but for toddlers under two, remember that foods with hard edges can be tricky, such as pretzels, tortilla chips, and some crackers. Go for softer versions of these whenever possible. You might be surprised to know that tortilla chips are notorious for getting stuck in toddlers' throats because of all the edges and texture.

Sticky and Hard Foods 

As far as your dentist is concerned, gummy candy, gummy vitamins, taffy, gum, and other sticky foods are about the worst thing you can give toddlers! If we’re looking at choking hazards, hard candies are a big problem, since children get impatient and often try to swallow them whole. 

Raw Vegetables/Fruit

Veggies such as celery sticks, carrots, cucumber slices, apple slices, and other raw and harder produce can be very tricky for little children to chew. Try shredding the vegetables first. For example, shredded carrots are good starting at about 18 months or two years old. For apples, choose softer varieties and slice them really thin. You can also steam or lightly cook these foods so they’re easier to break down in the mouth.

Peeling fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers and apples can also help. For younger children, prepare small cubes, and for older toddlers, cut them into long, thin sticks. 


When young kids are given cubes or thin slices of steak, cubes of grilled chicken or turkey, it can be very difficult for them to chew. Try gound meat or give them pieces of meatballs, which are softer. 


Kids love cheese, so use bags of shredded cheese as snack food for toddlers (your NIKO car seat cover will catch all of the tiny bits that fall from their hands). Save the cheese sticks for older children.


Slices of soft bread can get stuck on the roofs of toddlers’ mouths. Instead, cut up lightly toasted bread into very small pieces. Same goes for foods such as muffins and pancakes. Also, be sure to provide a drink, as starchy foods are harder to manage if the mouth is dry.


We realize that the suggestions above are a little messier and more time-consuming than handing your child normal-sized snacks. But they’re safer, and your NIKO car seat cover will keep all of the crumbs and pieces from ruining your car seat. After all, kids need a LOT of snacks, and you can’t stop the car every time you hear “I’m hungry!”


Good luck, and safe and happy travels!

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