Kosher Kiddie Kitchen Koncerns
Alden Mamann wrote:
At what age should my wife and I start making sure our son is observing all the kashruth laws? He is just turning one and since we do keep kosher, we're starting to feel awkward about giving him his milk bottle before bed when he has just finished a dinner consisting of meat.
Dear Alden Mamann,
In general, a child who's reached the 'age of education' - somewhere between age three and six - should be trained to observe the mitzvot which he can understand. This doesn't mean he has to understand the philosophical meaning of the mitzvah; rather, he must understand that this is something that he should or should not do.
Since waiting between milk and meat is not something your average one-year-old understands, you can give him a bottle of milk after he's eaten meat. However, you should not give your son milk and meat to eat together at the same time, and it's good to wipe off whatever meat may be smeared on his face before giving him milk.
Once he can understand this mitzvah you should wait an hour before giving him milk. When he's about 6, he should fully observe your family's custom - for example, 6 hours - assuming that he's a healthy child.
Which reminds me of a joke:
One morning at the breakfast table, a seven-year-old who had never in his life uttered a single word shocked his mother with the words: "The toast is burnt."Sources:
With tears of joy in her eyes, his mother embraced him. When she regained her composure, though, she asked him, "But why have you never said anything up until now?"
"Till now everything's been OK," he said.
- Children in Halacha, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen p. 35.