Hot Dogs are a favorite kid-food. Summertime is filled with barbecues and picnics, but hot dogs are also an easy, quick meal for kids year round. While parents have been warned to cut hot dogs up for kids, pediatricians are warning that many are cutting up hot dogs for children the wrong way which poses a danger. This article will show you the right way to cut a hot dog so you are protecting your family.

child eating hot dog in a bun - Kids Activities Blog
Hot dogs just taste good!

Hot Dogs are a Family Food Favorite

Did you know that 150 million hot dogs are consumed on the Fourth of July alone? And in my house, it has always been the go-to convenience food at grandma’s house when kids didn’t want the fancier food that was being served.

But did you know, hot dogs can be one of the most dangerous things to feed to children?

child eating hot dog
Hot dogs are quick and easy!

Choking on Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are so dangerous, doctors are actually warning parents about the dangers of cutting hot dogs wrong for children and it is something worth knowing.

One of my biggest fears when it comes to my kids is having one of them choke. I’ve read too many horror stories regarding foods such as grapes getting lodged into a child’s airway and now, seems like I need to worry more about hot dogs too.

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kids eating hot dogs in buns
Hot dogs are portable and easy to eat on the go

Doctors Warn About Dangers of Hot Dogs

Dr. Tanya Altmann, Pediatrician and author of Baby & Toddler Basics and What to Feed Your Baby is reminding parents that hot dogs can be “serious choking hazards”.

Now, you might be wondering what makes hot dogs so dangerous and the answer is simple, the size, shape and texture of hot dogs make it easy for them to get stuck causing children to choke.

Do Not Feed Hot Dogs to Kids Under the Age of 4 Years Old

Hot dogs actually rank among the top of lists of foods to avoid giving young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that hot dogs should be kept away from children younger than 4 years old.

Hot dogs are long and round and when (young children) bite off a piece of it, it really looks kind of like a thick quarter and that is the perfect size to get lodged into a child’s throat


If you do intend to give hot dogs to your small children, you need to ensure they are properly cut so your child doesn’t choke.

Do Not Cut Hot Dogs Into Circles

Cutting them into circles is a big no-no.

Hot dogs should NEVER be cut like this:

the wrong way to cut a hot dog
Do NOT cut hot dogs this way for kids.

proper way to cut hot dogs for children

Hot dogs should be cut lengthwise into strips first and then cut again into smaller pieces.

right way to cut hot dogs for kids to eat
Cut hot dogs this way for kids.

Food Safety for Kids

The same goes for other common choking hazards such as grapes, cherries and cherry tomatoes.

For older kids that want to be like the grown-ups and eat a hot dog while holding it, Altmann says parents could still cut the hot dog in half long-ways before putting it in the bun to help reduce the choking risk.

Hot Dog Cutters You Can Buy

You can get a Grape Cutter which you can use to cut pieces of grapes and cherry tomatoes to the appropriate size for children.

The bottom line here is, when in doubt, skip the food or cut it into tiny pieces for children.

Are there any choking hazards associated with hot dogs?

Johns Hopkins Medicine says, “Every food poses a choking risk in young kids but the hot dog has just the right size and consistency to perfectly block the airway.”

It is important to reduce the risk of choking by cutting hot dogs for kids correctly. If you are planning to serve hot dogs to young kids, they should be minced. As the kids grow older and can handle bigger pieces, remember to NEVER serve hot dogs cut as circles. Always slice them long ways first, before cutting them into smaller pieces.

Always supervise kids who are eating hot dogs and encourage them to chew their food thoroughly to ensure their safety.

Are there any specific age recommendations for introducing hot dogs to infants or toddlers?

The American Academy of Pediatrics considers hot dogs in the same choking hazard category as nuts, whole grapes, and hard sticky candy. It is best to reserve these foods until kids are over 4 years old so chewing skills are developed and their teeth have come in.

Because hot dogs are considered a high-risk food for choking, it is important to be cautious if you plan to introduce them to younger children. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Infants: It is generally recommended to avoid serving hot dogs to infants under 12 months of age. This is because their ability to chew and swallow solid foods is still developing, and the texture and shape of hot dogs is a serious choking hazard.
  2. Toddlers: Once a child has developed good chewing skills, you might consider introducing hot dogs. But it is crucial to follow safety precautions. Cut hot dogs into small, bite-sized pieces, making sure they are manageable for your toddler to chew and swallow safely. Make sure you stay with your child during the whole meal to supervise them.

If you have concerns or questions about introducing hot dogs to your child, make sure to talk to your pediatrician.

How should I prepare hot dogs for my kid?

Hot dogs are definitely an all-American grill food. And they are great for feeding a crowd. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you pull out the pack of hot dogs for your kids this summer:

  • We love all beef hot dogs! But if my kids are fixated on hot dogs every time dinner rolls around (is that just my house?) you might consider options like turkey or chicken hot dogs for less fat. The fine print here is that turkey and chicken options often have a higher sodium content than traditional hot dogs. So just be label aware so that you make the best decision for your kids.
  • Make sure to follow the package directions and heat your hot dogs all the way through to prevent any potential bacteria from making your kids sick.
  • Try to pair your hot dog with other foods like fresh-cut fruit, corn on the cob, or chopped veggies and dip. Hot dogs are a fabulous treat that we like to balance out with other healthier foods with lots of textures and tastes.
  • Make sure to cut hot dogs into bite-size pieces, never circles for your kids to prevent choking.

Foods That Can Cause Choking Problems in Kids

  • Hot dogs
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Grapes
  • Popcorn
  • Hard candy
  • Raw food like veggies & fruits
  • Gum

What To Do if Child Is Choking

BEFORE you have an emergency, learn some basics of responding to a choking emergency. Knowing how to do a Heimlich Maneuver, a Tongue-Jaw Life and the basics of CPR.

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