How long are children to wait between eating meat and milk?
Introduction: The accustomed six-hour wait between meat and dairy is not a Biblical requirement, and is even debated as to if it is a Rabbinical requirement or a mere custom. Either way, whether it is Rabbinical or a mere custom, question is asked regarding to its implementation regarding children. Did the Sages decree this delay also upon children? Was the custom accepted also upon children? Although, in general, all matters of Kashrus, whether Biblical or Rabbinical, apply equally to children, from the day that the child is born, and it is the responsibility of the parent to prevent a child from eating non-Kosher, nevertheless, in regard to waiting six hours between meat and milk, it is possible that the Sages never even initially implemented their decree upon children, being that a) in general, decrees that involve fasting from food were not placed onto children; and b) The decree was not placed onto people who are sick, and in Halacha, children are viewed in the same status as one who is sick; and c) Children eat their meals in closer proximity than adults and have a faster metabolism. The following is the law regarding this matter as discussed in Poskim:
The law: Some Poskim rule that a child is not required to wait six hours between meat and dairy, and rather may eat dairy after meat so long as his mouth has been cleaned. Other Poskim however rule that the accepted custom is for children to gradually wait sometime between meat and milk, depending on their age, and so is the final ruling. The following suggested practice is recorded in Poskim:
- Below age three: Children who are below the age of three do not need to wait at all, although should have their mouths rinsed out prior to eating dairy.
- From age three to six: Children who are above the age of three begin waiting 1 hour between meat and dairy and then gradually wait 2/3 hours as the child gets older, until the age of six.
- From 6 to Bar/Bas Mitzvah: Some write that all children who are above the age of six are ideally to wait 6 hours. If, however, the child is hungry and is below the age of 9, then if he has waited three hours and refuses to eat other foods one may be lenient to give him dairy. If, however, the child is above age nine, then he must wait six hours. Others state that from age 5-10 the child is to wait up to 3 hours, while from age 10 he is to wait 6 hours. Others write that all children who are under Bar and Bas Mitzvah are ideally to wait six hours, although if there is difficulty for them to wait 6 hours, can be lenient to wait 3-4 hours. Others write that in a time of need, all children may be lenient to wait one hour between poultry and dairy.
- A weak or sick child: All children of all ages who are weak or sick, and need to eat dairy foods, may be lenient to wait one hour and clean out their mouths between meat and dairy.
 See Beir Moshe 8/36; Sheivet Haleivi 4/84; Hakashrus 10/44
The ruling of Rav Zalman Shimon Dworkin [Koveitz Zalman Shimon p. 62]: Those who are very young and weak may be lenient to wait one hour after cleaning and washing the mouth. Those which are a bit older, but are under Bar and Bas Mitzvah can wait 3-4 hours if there is difficulty for them to wait 6 hours. The reason for this leniency is because there are opinions which hold that in the winter when the days are short the number of hours between meals is 3-4 hours. Now although we do not rule like this opinion, nevertheless for children one may be lenient.
 See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 89/1 for a dispute between the Rambam/Michaber [Rabbinical] and Tosafus/Rama [Custom].
 See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 343
 Aruch Hashulchan 89/6; Chachmas Adam 40/11; Igros Kodesh Rashab Halacha 35; Sheivet Haleivi 4/84
 See Admur 328/22
 Meiri Chulin 105
 Opinion in Meiri Chulin 105 regarding all meat, and in his conclusion at least regarding poultry; Chelkas Yaakov 2/88 until age 12 there is no need to wait; Poskim brought in Bier Moshe 8/36 that there is no need to wait until age nine
 Beir Moshe 8/36; Sheivet Haleivi 4/84; Rav Zalman Shimon Dworkin in Koveitz Zalman Shimon p. 62
 Beir Moshe 8/36; Sheivet Haleivi 4/84 that by very young children there is no need at all to be Machmir; Rav Zalman Shimon ibid writes that the very young may be lenient to wait one hour after Kinuach and Hadacha. It is unclear if he refers here even to a child below age three.
 The reason: As below age three the custom was not to be particular in this matter, even regarding giving the child dairy immediately after eating meat. Nevertheless, the mouth is to be rinsed out, at the very least to follow the opinion of Tosafus in this matter. [Beir Moshe ibid]
 Beir Moshe 8/36; Sheivet Haleivi 4/84 that all children who still receive the status of Choleh Sheiyn Bo Sakana may be lenient after a short amount of time; Rav Zalman Shimon ibid writes that the very young may be lenient to wait one hour after Kinuach and Hadacha. It is unclear until what age a child is considered “very young”
 Beir Moshe 8/36; Rav Zalman Shimon Dworkin ibid that all children who are somewhat older are ideally to wait six hours; Sheivet Haleivi 4/84 writes that all children who still receive the status of Choleh Sheiyn Bo Sakana may be lenient after a short amount of time. There are various opinions in Poskim in this matter and some say that until age nine a child has a status of a Choleh Sheiyn Bo Sakana; Accordingly, some state that from 5-10 the child is to wait up to 3 hours, while from 10 he is to wait 6 hours.
 Beir Moshe 8/36
 Hakashrus 10/44 partially based on Sheivet Haleivi 4/84 that all children which are still considered a Choleh Sheiyn Bo Sakana regarding Shabbos are likewise able to be lenient to not wait 6 hours.
 Rav Zalman Shimon ibid
 The reason for this leniency is because there are opinions which hold that in the winter when the days are short the amount of hours between meals is 3-4 hours. Now although we do not rule like this opinion, nevertheless for children one may be lenient.
 Meiri ibid; Sheivet Haleivi 4/84
 Rav Zalman Shimon ibid; Poskim ibid