The Interval Between Meat and Milk for Children and for the Sick (Part 1)
Even though the Torah forbids feeding a child something that is forbidden
(and this prohibition also applies to food that is forbidden by the rabbis)
even if he is too young to realize it, the Acharonim have written that
a young child need not wait six hours between meat and milk because he needs
milk to grow and to be healthy. Accordingly, there is an opinion that for children
who can understand, this leniency applies only to milk, cheese, etc.—not to
candies that may have milk in them because they don’t need them to grow and
be healthy. Nevertheless, if the child has already eaten cheese or drunk some
milk, there is no point in withholding a milky treat.
Of course, this principle does not apply equally to children of different
ages. There is no clear consensus among the poskim on when and how long
children should wait between eating meat and milk. Those who have a custom to
guide them in this matter should adhere to it. For those who don’t, here are
some guidelines. The main issue is the maturity of the child. The ages
listed are not intended to be precise, but rather an indication of the level
of the child’s maturity.
A child who is less than three years old can have milk immediately after
eating meat, so long as his mouth has been wiped clean of any pieces of meat.
There is no need to wait at all with such a young child because milk is considered
a vital food for him, a food that cannot be withheld without endangering his
health. And even those who distinguish between milk and milky
candies agree that the distinction does not apply to such a young child.
Of course, a nursing child can nurse at any time, without wiping his mouth,
for the prohibition of eating meat and milk together does not apply to mothers’
Between the ages of three and five or six, a child should be educated to
wait one hour after eating meat before drinking milk. But if he makes a fuss
or starts crying, he should be permitted to have his milk immediately after
wiping his mouth.
Between the ages of six to nine, the child should be educated to wait three
or four hours, but a weak child who needs milk need not wait more than an hour.