Almost any food—even those known as high choking risks—can be made safe for babies to self-feed. Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers employing baby-led weaning or finger food first approaches to starting solids aren’t cutting these foods properly. The number one mistake?
Cutting round foods at the equator.
Foods like blueberries, grapes, cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots are common choking hazards because they are round, slick, and firm. When a food has any of these three qualities, you must modify it to be safe. Cutting it at the equator does little to modify the round shape. Grapes, blueberries, cherry tomatoes and other small, round foods can still easily get lodged in baby’s throat or airway if merely cut in half at the equator.
To make these common choking hazards safe for babies and toddlers, it’s best to quarter the food lengthwise. (You may also smash or thinly slice.) In the case of carrots and other round, hard foods, also cook until soft and then cut lengthwise into quarters.
Once quartered, kinds of foods typically require a pincer grasp since they are quite small in size, so think about waiting until baby is 9 months old before serving small, quartered pieces or serve these small pieces toward the end of a meal when your baby is not starving and less likely to get frustrated.