Food Safety for Preschoolers

Preschoolers' immune systems are still developing. Follow important general food safety guidelines to avoid foodborne illness. Follow these additional food safety guidelines to keep your preschooler healthy and safe. You can also print the Food Safety Tips for Preschoolers handout. 

Child washing hands
Wash Hands Often

Hand washing is one of the most important ways to keep your preschooler from getting sick. Children should wash their hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds at a time:

  • After using the bathroom
  • Before and after handling food or eating
  • After playing with pets or visiting a petting zoo
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • When their hands are dirty

Prevent Choking

Prevent choking by avoiding small or tough pieces of food. Your preschooler can easily choke on some foods. Avoid foods that are smaller than one-half inch (1/2 in.) or about the size of a nickel such as:

  • Peanuts
  • Chewing gum
  • Round slices of hot dog or sausage
  • Whole grapes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Tough meats

To prevent choking, have your preschooler sit down when they eat. Avoid letting them run, walk, play, or lie down with food in their mouth.  


Raw meat
Avoid Raw Foods

Some foods are more likely to cause foodborne illness. Avoid serving your preschooler the following foods:

  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk
  • Raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs
  • Raw or underwooked meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish. Cook foods to safe minimum internal temperatures
  • Unpasteurized juices
  • Unwashed fruits or vegetables, especially raw sprouts


Serve Safe Seafood

Some types of seafood may contain unhealthy chemicals, like mercury. Choose fish lower in mercury to make sure what your child eats is safe. Choices that are lower in mercury include:

  • Salmon
  • Flounder
  • Tilapia
  • Trout
  • Pollock
  • Catfish

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