Your pregnancy and baby guide

Children's food: safety and hygiene

Keep your child safe from food bugs

Babies and young children are especially vulnerable to the bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Make sure your baby isn't at risk because of the way you prepare or serve food.

  • Always wash your hands before preparing food and after touching raw meat, chicken and eggs. 
  • Teach your children to wash their hands after touching pets and going to the toilet, and before eating.
  • Keep surfaces clean and keep any pets away from food or surfaces where food is prepared.
  • Thoroughly wash all bowls and spoons used for feeding in hot soapy water and make sure chopping boards and utensils are also kept clean.
  • Keep raw meats covered and away from other foods in the fridge, including cooked or ready-to-eat meats – it’s best to store raw meats in clean covered containers at the bottom of the fridge to prevent any drips from falling on to other foods.
  • Cook all food thoroughly and cool it until lukewarm before giving it to your baby.
  • Don’t save and reuse foods that your child has half eaten. 
  • Wash and peel fruit and vegetables such as apples and carrots.
  • Avoid raw eggs, including uncooked cake mixture, homemade ice creams, homemade mayonnaise or desserts that contain uncooked egg.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and the white are firm.
  • If you'd like to prepare foods that normally contain raw or partially cooked eggs, you should consider using pasteurised egg, which is available from some supermarkets.
  • Avoid eating raw or lightly cooked shellfish. Children should only eat shellfish that's been thoroughly cooked.
  • Don’t give children food or drink when they’re sitting on the potty.

Read more about how to prepare and cook food safely.

Storing and reheating food for children

  • Cool food as quickly as possible (ideally within 1 to 2 hours) and put it in the fridge or freezer. Food placed in the fridge should be eaten within 2 days.
  • Frozen food should be thoroughly defrosted before reheating. The safest way to do this is to leave it in the fridge overnight or use the defrost setting on a microwave.
  • When reheating food, make sure it’s steaming hot all the way through, then let it cool down before giving it to your child. If you’re using a microwave, always stir the food and check the temperature before feeding it to your child. Don’t reheat cooked food more than once.
  • To cool food quickly, put it in an airtight container and hold it under a cold running tap. Stir it from time to time, so that it cools consistently all the way through.

Remember, always stay with your baby while they're eating, in case they choke.

Read about helping a choking child.

Page last reviewed: 01/09/2015
Next review due: 01/09/2018