The moment when you start feeding your baby with "real" food, not from a bottle, is always very exciting. However, it is also the right time to start thinking about eating right and - most important - serving your baby with safe food.
By definition the passages in the baby's breathing system are narrower that those of adults. In addition, babies who are taking their first steps in the "real food" world do not chew their food well enough, or not at all. Therefore, they are in greater danger of suffocation caused by inhaling of food particles while eating. This is why learning what is safe food for the baby at each age is most important.
Never allow babies and young children to eat while playing and jumping around. Make sure they are properly seated next to the table when they eat. In case of babies and very young children food should be sliced to small pieces. Teach your kids to chew their food well, and when you introduce new food - make sure the child can manage with eat and chew it.
There are some safety rules regarding the shape of the food slices you should serve children:
Round? Only in older age. Never serve any round slices to children under the age of 5. These might get stuck in the trachea (windpipe) and block any passage of air.
Don't slip on slippery food: Take into account that food with slippery texture might slip too fast from the mouth to the throat where it might block the trachea.
Size does matter: avoid access to very small or very large slices of food. Too small slices might pass to the throat before proper chewing, and too large particles might be too hard to chew and the child might inhale them in full size to the trachea.
Eat when ripe:
Now that you have mastered the basics, it is time to learn at which are the child is "ripe" for which food:
Nuts and seeds: forbidden till the age of 5, as it might be inhaled.
Dried fruit: Up to the age of 4 dried foods much is sliced to small pieces. Pips should be removed before serving.
Fruits: In general, up to the age of 4 it is recommended to slice fruit in slices compatible with the child's age and chewing ability. Grapes should be sliced lengthwise.
Vegetables: In general, up to the age of 4 it is recommended to slice vegetables in slices compatible with the child's age and chewing ability. Pee, chick-pees and Corn should only be served when cooked and very soft. Cherry tomatoes should be sliced lengthwise. Cucumber, carrot must never be sliced to round pieces, only lengthwise. Before serving olives to children under the age of 4 make sure you remove the pip and slice the olives lengthwise.
Other food: Up to the age of 5 - never serve a whole hotdog to a child, but rather slice it lengthwise (and not to round pieces). It is also recommended to completely avoid popcorn, lollipops, and other type of hard candy. For a child under 4 you should slice meat and cheese to small pieces. Up to the age of 3 it is recommended to avoid marshmallow, toffee, jelly beans and hard snacks.
These rules are formed by health regulation organization, it is always better to examine what's right for your own baby. If you think he is not yet ready for a certain type or texture of food - don't take any risk. It is all about the health and well-being of our precious children... Better safe than sorry.