Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.5 Meal Service, Seating, and Supervision

4.5.0 Hot Liquids and Foods

Adults should not consume hot liquids above 120°F in child care areas (3). Hot liquids and hot foods should be kept out of the reach of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Hot liquids and foods should not be placed on a surface at a child's level, at the edge of a table or counter, or on a tablecloth that could be yanked down. Appliances containing hot liquids, such as coffee pots and crock pots, should be kept out of the reach of children. Electrical cords from any appliance, including coffee pots, should not be allowed to hang within the reach of children. Food preparers should position pot handles toward the back of the stove and use only back burners when possible.
The most common burn suffered by young children is scalding from hot liquids tipped over in the kitchen (1). The skin of young children is much thinner than that of adults and can burn at temperatures that adults find comfortable (2). In a recent study, 90.4% of scald injuries to children under age five were related to hot cooking or drinking liquids (4).
Hot liquids can cause burns to young children at the following rates of contact: one second at 156°F, two seconds at 149°F, five seconds at 140°F, fifteen seconds at 133°F, five minutes at 120°F (2).
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
  1. Ring, L. M. 2007. Kids and hot liquids-A burning reality. J of Pediatric Health Care 21:192-94.
  2. Children’s Safety Association of Canada. Safety fact sheet: Scald burns.
  3. Turner, C., A. Spinks, R. J. McClure, J. Nixon. 2004. Community-based interventions for the prevention of burns and scalds in children. Cochrane Database Systematic Rev (2).
  4. Lowell, G., K. Quinlan, L. J. Gottlieb. 2008. Pediatrics 122:799-804.