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Expert advice

12th Apr 2024

Paramedic issues warning and safety advice for nut butters

Jody Coffey

nut butters

This is important information to have

Nut butters — such as almond, peanut, and cashew — tend to be a favourite among children as a topping on bread, porridge, and fruit, making mealtimes a helluva lot easier for parents.

These butters are especially convenient as they can be used as a dip for handheld foods, such as fruit and vegetables, which makes it easier to sneak some additional nutrition into your child’s diet.

However, one paramedic has issued a warning about this cupboard staple as it can easily become a choking hazard if not served in the right way.

CEO of Tiny Hearts Education, Nikki Jurcutz, outlined its risks and suggested several ways parents can serve nut butter to make it a safer treat.

“Nut butters can plug the airway,” the former paramedic said in an Instagram post for the advice account.

“The consistency of nut butters can essentially make it a plug to the airway. That’s why prevention and preparation is key for serving nut butters.”

The consistency of nut butters is ‘thick’ and ‘sticky’, she says, which is why is poses a risk for blocking the airways and making traditional first aid more difficult to carry out.

However, thankfully, there are ways to make these butter safer for children to consume.

Firstly, Jurcutz recommends using smooth versions of these butters as opposed to the crunchy ones, which contain little pieces of the nut.

She also advises parents to thin these butters with either breast milk, milk, formula, or water.

The former paramedic says mixing it with other purees is also effective for thinning its ‘thick’ and ‘sticky’ consistency.

Lastly, if being spread on bread or toast, ensure to only apply a thin layer.

Many parents thanked Jurcutz for bringing awareness to this hidden danger, with some, sadly, admitting they found out about it the hard way.

One user shared their awful experience with nut butter.

“Found my 3yo eating pb from the jar, took it away from him next minute he’s choking and starts to vomit but we couldn’t get his airways clear,” they wrote.

“I ended up having to scoop the back of his throat to which a projectile vomit cleared it.”

Another user admitted that they themselves have experienced first-hand how these nut butters can block the airways.

“This actually happened to me… when I was 32! I ate a spoonful of peanut butter straight … ok ate 3 spoonfuls, and on the third I couldn’t swallow!!” they shared.

“The peanut butter was stuck! I could still breathe but it was really hard and luckily I had just poured a hot tea, and the hot water moved the peanut butter along!”

Tiny Hearts Education provides quality baby, infant and child first aid, CPR and helpful information for parents online.