Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.2 General Requirements

4.2.0 Written Menus and Introduction of New Foods

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 11/9/2017. 


Facilities should develop, at least one month in advance, written menus that show all foods to be served during that month and should make the menus available to parents/guardians. The facility should date and retain these menus for 6 months, unless the state regulatory agency requires a longer retention time. The menus should be amended to reflect any and all changes in the food actually served. Any substitutions should be of equal nutrient value.

Caregivers/teachers should use or develop a take-home sheet for parents/guardians on which caregivers/teachers record the food consumed each day or, for breastfed infants, the number of times they are fed and other important notes. Caregivers/teachers should continue to consult with each infant’s parent/guardian about foods they have introduced and are feeding to the infant. In this way, caregivers/teachers can follow a schedule of introducing new foods one at a time and more easily identify possible food allergies or intolerances. Caregivers/teachers should let parents/guardians know what and how much their infants eat each day.

To avoid problems of food sensitivity in infants younger than 12 months, caregivers/teachers should obtain from infants’ parents/guardians a list of foods that have already been introduced (without any reaction) and serve those items when appropriate. As new foods are considered for serving, caregivers/teachers should share and discuss these foods with parents/guardians prior to their introduction.

Planning menus in advance helps to ensure that food will be on hand. Posting menus in a prominent area and distributing them to parents/guardians helps to inform parents/guardians about proper nutrition Parents/guardians need to be informed about food served in the facility to know how to complement it with the food they serve at home. If a child has difficulty with any food served at the facility, parents/guardians can address this issue with appropriate staff members. Some regulatory agencies require menus as a part of the licensing and auditing process (1).

Consistency between home and the early care and education setting is essential during the period of rapid change when infants are learning to eat age-appropriate solid foods (1-3).
Caregivers/teachers should be aware that new foods may need to be offered between 8 and 15 times before they may be accepted (2,4). Sample menus and menu planning templates are available from most state health departments and the US Department of Agriculture (5) and its Child and Adult Care Food Program (6).

Good communication between caregivers/teachers and parents/guardians is essential for successful feeding, in general, including when introducing age-appropriate solid foods (complementary foods). The decision to feed specific foods should be made in consultation with the parents/guardians. It is recommended that caregivers/teachers be given written instructions on the introduction and feeding of foods from the parents/guardians and the infants’ primary health care providers. 
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS General Plan for Feeding Infants Introduction of Age-Appropriate Solid Foods to Infants Experience with Familiar and New Foods
  1. Benjamin SE, Copeland KA, Cradock A, et al. Menus in child care: a comparison of state regulations with national standards. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(1):109–115
  2. Coulthard H, Sealy A. Play with your food! Sensory play is associated with tasting of fruits and vegetables in preschool children. Appetite. 2017;113:84–90
  3. Savage JS, Fisher JO, Birch LL. Parental influence on eating behavior: conception to adolescence. J Law Med Ethics. 2007;35(1):22–34
  4. US Department of Agriculture. Menu planning tools for child care providers. Accessed September 20, 2017
  5. US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Published March 29, 2017. Accessed September 20, 2017
  6. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Childhood nutrition. American Academy of Pediatrics Web site. Updated March 3, 2016. Accessed September 20, 2017

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 11/9/2017.