Food Safety for Pre-Schoolers

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Food Safety for Pre-Schoolers

Keeping food safe for your children helps keep them healthy. Good habits about food safety will last a lifetime!

Wash hands

Teach your children to wash their hands before and after eating, after using the bathroom, after playing with pets, and whenever their hands are dirty.

Keep a stool by the sink to help small children reach it more easily.

Sing the Alphabet Song or “Happy Birthday to You” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” while hand washing. This will help you make sure that the children wash their hands for at least 20 seconds each time.

Let your children pick out a favorite soap that they will have fun using.

Children who wash their hands often are less likely to get sick.

Keep things clean

Small children get sick more easily because their immune systems are not fully developed. Keep food and the counter tops and table tops clean.

Wash surfaces and utensils before and after you prepare meals or snacks for your children.

Prevent choking

Don’t choose foods that are hard to swallow. Or cut them into pieces 1/2 inch or smaller. These foods include peanuts, popcorn, hot dog slices, hard candy, whole grapes, and cherry tomatoes.

Make sure your children sit down when they are eating. Don’t let them run, walk, play, or lie down while they have food in their mouths.

Pack a safe, healthy lunch

Keep cold foods cold by adding a frozen juice box, water bottle, or small ice pack to an insulated lunch bag. If you are using paper lunch sacks, double them up to help keep things cold. By lunch time, the juice box or water bottle will have thawed enough to drink!

Keep hot foods hot in an insulated thermos. Be sure to prime the thermos first, by filling it with boiling water. Let it stand for a few minutes, then pour the water out. Fill the thermos with piping hot soup or stew!

Keep snacks safe

If snacks come in a large box or bag, divide them up right away into small, single-serving bags. Many hands digging into the big box can spread germs to all the snacks inside.

Rinse fruits and vegetables before slicing them to serve as snacks.

Hard-cooked eggs

Hard-cooked eggs can be an easy and nutritious food for small children.

Before cooking, always keep the eggs in the refrigerator. After cooking, return them to the refrigerator within 2 hours.

If you are dyeing the eggs for the holidays, be sure to use food-safe coloring.

Choose healthy fish

The fats in fish and shellfish are good for young children, and adults, too! But some fish can also contain high levels of mercury and other toxic chemicals. Fish that are usually lower in mercury are catfish, pollock, salmon, sardines, tilapia, and trout


This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.