Certain wild mushrooms are toxic.

Are Mushrooms Safe for Toddlers?

by Sara Ipatenco

White button, portabella and other exotic mushrooms are available year round and are a nutritious addition to your child's diet. When you prepare them right, mushrooms are completely safe, too. The safety of mushrooms usually comes into play with wild mushrooms, which many toddlers might be tempted to pick and eat because they often also look quite tasty. If your toddler still puts everything in his mouth, keep him away from those interesting mushrooms that can pop up after a rainstorm or any other mushroom growing outside.

1. Nutrients

Mushrooms are low in fat and calories and supply a good dose of fiber, which protects the health of your toddler's digestive system and can cut down on the risk of constipation, too. Most edible varieties of mushrooms also supply a good amount of potassium, a nutrient that boosts your child heart and muscle health. Your child also gets small amounts of iron and vitamin C from mushrooms. White button mushrooms are a healthy source of vitamin D, as well. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that helps your toddler absorb plenty of bone-building calcium.

2. Choking Hazards

Edible mushrooms that you purchase from the grocery store aren't poisonous, but they can be a choking hazard. According to HealthyChildren.org, choking is a common cause of injury and death among children under the age of 5. Whole button mushrooms, for example, are much too large to serve your child and can lead to choking. When you do serve mushrooms, chop them into pieces that are no larger than 1/2 inch. Supervise your toddler when he eats mushrooms, as well, which can further reduce his risk of choking.

3. Wild Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms that grow in your backyard or in rural areas aren't necessarily safe for your toddler to eat, though they can be highly attractive to him. It's essential to scan outdoor areas for wild mushrooms before turning your toddler loose, because there are about 100 species of poisonous ones that grow in North America. Look for shrooms that have warts, white gills on the bottom, leafy-shaped gills, rings around the top or bottom of the stems or stems that are bulb-shaped at the bottom, which all indicate that the mushroom is poisonous. If your toddler does ingest a wild mushroom, seek medical attention right away.

4. Serving Suggestions

Saute mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, chop them into bite-sized pieces and serve them to your toddler plain, or slice mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and serve them with a side of low-fat ranch dressing for dipping. If he doesn't enjoy the taste of the plain mushrooms, grate them into his favorite pasta sauce or soup or mince them into pasta salad. Hide diced mushrooms under the cheese on your toddler's pizza as another way to add them to his diet.

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