HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Don't Serve Chips to Babies?

I was in a Mexican restaurant today, and there was a sign up, in spanish, reading "please don't feed chips to kids under 3 years of age".

My mind immediately darted through several hypotheses, all of which quickly fizzled. Any theories?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
    1. re: alanbarnes

      Alan, yup, that makes sense. Not sure why I didn't think of it...

    2. seems amazingly ridiculous to me

      21 Replies
      1. re: thew

        Ridiculous that the restaurant said it or ridiculous that the OP asked? If the former, why is it ridiculous? BTW, love your baked polenta ::)

        1. re: c oliver

          the former. because kids under 3 are quite capable of eating a chip without choking, that's why.

          1. re: thew

            probably they had an incident or two and decided to be extra cautious. or, maybe the under 3s were throwing chip crumbs all over the floor?

            1. re: thew

              Chips are usually eaten with a dip. Most kids under 3 wouldn't like hot salsa sauce or another flavored dip. To eat a chip dry does present a choking hazard for a 3 year old plus chips aren't very healthy eating to start with.

              1. re: Beau711

                My 19 month old loves chips and salsa. Seriously. She chews them up just fine, no choking hazard at all, and loves to dip them in salsa. We pour a small amount of salsa onto a plate for her and let her dip to her hearts content. Her clothes get a bit messy (but that's what bibs are for) and we make sure to wipe up the area frequently.

                Bear in mind, we are regulars at the restaurant. We generally go on the weekends, around 2 p.m. when things are slow, and the staff all know us all by name. I'm not letting my kids run amock or anything.

                There is no reason a toddler shouldn't be able to eat chips.

                1. re: tzurriz

                  There are lawyers involved here, if a kid chokes on a chip they are covering the liability. Same reason an electric appliance like a hairdryer says do not use under water and plastic boxes have warnings not to let a kid play in them.
                  It is a choking possiblity, but then so is food like grapes or hotdogs bites and especially balloons.

                  1. re: meinNYC

                    I think the sign is up because already happened with legal involvement and they don't want to ever go there again.

                    For kids it's not only a sizable chunk of food that can be a problem but also something with a sharp edge. Gag reflex, etc.

                  2. re: tzurriz

                    An image of fake IDs for toddlers who like and can safely eat chips popped into my mind just after the thought that the sign probably went up after a choking incident.

                      1. re: lgss

                        What bugs me is that toddlers keep coming over to my table and asking me to score some chips for them.

                        I mean, I'd like to help, but my hands are tied....

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          LOL!!! I like your sense of humor!!

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            Ah, today's kids! Y'know they start off with chips and before you turn around, they're wearing mittens to hide their neon orange hands and mask the tell-tale aroma of cheez (TM).

                            1. re: Striver

                              Tortilla chips are a gateway snack.

                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                "Betcha can't eat just one."

                                After that ad campaign it would be hard for the President of Frito-Lay to stand up in front of Congress and swear that his products are not addictive.

                    1. re: thew

                      Babies and toddlers don't have molars yet, and their airways are narrower than older kids.' In addition, they often try to swallow largish chunks of food - hey, they're just learning how to eat. So it's a pretty well-accepted rule of thumb not to offer chips, pretzels, nuts, etc. before the age of three.

                      Sure, it's unlikely to cause a problem on any given occasion, and it's ultimately up to the parents to make the decision. But the risk is real, and there's no harm in a restaurant pointing it out.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        my sixteen month old granddaughter has her molars. and loves anything she can dip in anything else, including salsa, not that the salsa at most of the Mexican restaurants around my town is anything approaching truly spicy (sigh).

                        I've never seen a sign telling parents not to feed babies bits of hot dogs, and I believe a quick look through any children's care book will tell you they are one of the bigger choking risks.

                        nuts are often discouraged before the age of three for another reason altogether (allergies).

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          "my sixteen month old granddaughter has her molars and loves anything she can dip in anything else, including salsa"

                          ...next up for your granddaughter's molars, moles!...(if it weren't for those darn ground nuts) ;-D>

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            The first true molar comes in around age 6 or so. The teeth behind a toddler's canines are bicuspids.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Alan, thank goodness you didn't chime in until now. What would I have been able to do with bicuspids? Bicarbonate just isn't appetizing! ;-D>

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                true, the first molars are baby teeth: the ones at age six or so are the adult ones that don't fall out...of course, not necessary to wait for the adult molars to deal with chips...

                                though I must say, I mentioned this discussion to my daughter today, and she told me that chips were problematic for WCG (World's Cutest Granddaughter) until she got those molars (or baby molars, or bicuspids, or whatever you call them).

                                However, while I of course think WCG is superior and early in her development in every respect :-), if the goal is to avoid choking three does seem to be later than necessary, nor does a limitation to one particular food make sense, since every child is different.

                              2. re: susancinsf

                                Tortilla chips (with salsa) and pretzels (small alphabet whole grain ones) are both served at my daughter's day care, to kids 18 months and up. My daughter happily ate salsa till about age 2.5 when she decided she didn't like it for whatever mysterious toddler reason.
                                Nuts are banned from the daycare. But for parents choosing foods at home, the current general recommendation is to avoid them until 1 year, I believe, unless you have a family history of nut allergies. Some recent thinking is that it would be a mistake to wait until 3, that early exposure to potential allergens may actually be better. Nuts are also considered to be a choking hazard by some. I'm not aware of any food where the geenral recommended age is as late as 3. Grapes, hot dogs etc can all be cut to reduce the risk.

                      2. I assume we're talking tortilla chips, in which case the choking hazard is substantially less than the risk of lacerating the roof of the mouth in toddlers. Children under the age of three are incredibly uncoordinated. It takes years for the brain to learn to coordinate the jaw muscles, lips, and tongue - I know I bit my tongue and gums a lot as a kid, and haven't done so since (at least not while sober). If you put a good sized chunk of tortilla chip, which have very sharp edges when cracked, on the tongue of someone who hasn't really figured out how to chew, they might close their mouth rather fast, driving a sharp edge into the soft palate.
                        It's not really a big deal when this happens, but the soft palate bleeds a lot. Adults get very upset when they see a toddler crying hysterically and coughing out profuse amounts of bloody saliva. It wouldn't suprise me - and I've seen stories of this with other non-choking incidents - if a panicked adult tried to perform the Heimlich and injured the kid in the process. The Heimlich is a great way to crush a kid's ribs.
                        In any case, it's an overly cautious warning. I've seen a couple kids cut their mouths on crunchy foods. They chew more carefully now.

                        1. My initial thought is the choking hazard, but a toddler can choke on lots of things. Does the restaurant also refuse to serve toddlers dishes than contain meat, which the tot's parents might not cut up into small enough pieces?

                          After thinking about it some though, I wonder if the policy is related to young children not being "full paying customers"? Children that young often get free meals w/ adult purchase, just eat a bit of their parents' plates, or don't eat the restaurant's food at all. Maybe the restaurant uses the policy to keep families from filling little ones with free chips so they'll order more food.

                          1. My 2 year old loves chips, she has been eating them since at least 18 months or so and loves spicy foods. I think you just need to be careful and stay with your children when they are eating. The restaurant should say they don't recommend it maybe, but I don't think it should be required.