CDC 2020, Food Safety Tips For Preschoolers, Center for Disease Control and Protection, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
washing strawberries

Keeping Your Preschooler Safe is Your Number One Priority.

Building safe habits will be valuable throughout their lives. Follow these simple tips to keep food safe and clean for your preschooler.

  1. Develop a healthy habit for life.
    Encourage hand washing after using the bathroom, before and after eating, after playing with pets, whenever they are dirty. Preschoolers are less likely to get sick if they wash their hands often. Keep a stool by the sink to make hand washing easier.
  2. Make Hand washing Fun!
    Sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" or the "Alphabet" song or count for 20 seconds each time to make sure your child is washing long enough. Have them pick out a favorite soap to keep them interested.
  3. Send a Safe, Healthy Lunch
    Keep foods cold by adding a frozen juice box or small ice pack to an insulated lunch box. When using paper lunch bags, double bag to help maintain the temperature.
  4. Keep Hot Lunches
    Hot Use an insulated thermos to keep foods like soup warm until lunchtime. Fill your thermos with boiling water and let stand for a few minutes. Then empty the water and fill with piping hot food.
  5. Safe Snacking.
    Many hands touching snacks can result in the spread of germs. Divide snacks up into small bags or buy single-serve packets. Rinse fruits and vegetables before slicing and serving them as snacks.
  6. Stay Clean.
    Young children can easily get sick because their immune systems are not fully developed. Keep food and surfaces clean. Wash surfaces before and after you prepare foods like fish, meat, eggs, and cheese for your preschooler.
  7. Holiday Eggs
    Hard-cooked eggs are a fun tradition for many families. After boiling eggs, dye them in food-safe coloring and return them to the refrigerator within 2 hours to keep them safe to eat.
  8. Some Foods are Hard to Swallow.
    Avoid foods that are hard to swallow or cut them into small pieces, about 1/2 inch. Hard-to-swallow foods can include peanuts, popcorn, round slices of hot dog, hard candy, whole grapes, and cherry tomatoes.
  9. Watch How They Eat
    To prevent choking, have your preschoolers sit down when they eat. Avoid letting them run, walk, play, or lie down with food in their mouth.
  10. Seafood for Preschoolers.
    Omega-3 fats in fish and shellfish have important health benefits for young children. But be aware of chemicals such as mercury. Choices that are often lower in mercury include salmon, sardines, tilapia, trout, pollock, and catfish.

For more information regarding food safety, here is a step by step guide to wash your hands.

Learn more about the author(s)


Also of Interest:

running obstacles
Cardio Endurance | Heart Smart
Cardio- Respiratory, or “Cardio” Endurance is an important element to children’s physical fitness.
Lindsay, A. & Byington, T. 2020, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, IP
begal brunch sandwich
Recipes - Healthy Kids Resource Center
Packing a healthy lunchbox and other healthy ideas.
Lindsay, A. 2020, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, IP
toddlers with tablet
Screen Time | Make Time to Unplug
Increased time in front of a screen means less time being physically active, contributing to higher weight and BMI, increased caloric intake & unhealthy food choices.
Lindsay, A. & Byington, T. 2020, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, IP
family dinner
Talking Positively At Mealtimes - Your Words Matter
As your child's caregiver, you play the biggest role in their eating behavior.
Lindsay, A. 2020, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, IP
Nevada Statewide SNAP-Ed Needs Assessment, 2020-2021
A needs assessment of SNAP-Ed programs statewide in Nevada. In 2020, all counties had a SNAP-Ed program, though they did not all receive individual funding, and 9 had programs, delivered by Extension. This publication shows many counties lack health and nutrition programs and how...
Buffington, A., Webber, K., and Lindsay, A. 2021, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno

Associated Programs

Kids and leader dancing with colored scarves in a classroom

Healthy Kids Resource Center

A one-stop shop for evidence-based research, resources, curricula, activities and materials that focus on obesity prevention for teachers and parents of young children. It is designed to educate parents and teachers as well as provide the tools needed to teach young children how to live a healthy lifestyle.

two boys holding a large wedge of watermelon

Healthy Kids - Nutrition Toolbox

This toolbox covers tips to increase childrens' overall levels of health and gives information pertaining to changing health habits.


Extension Director's Office | On the campus of University of Nevada, Reno