Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service
4.3 Requirements for Special Groups or Ages of Children
4.3.2 Nutrition for Toddlers and Preschoolers
18.104.22.168: Meal and Snack Patterns for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Meals and snacks should contain the minimum amount of foods shown in the meal and snack patterns for toddlers and preschoolers described in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
When incorporating CACFP, caregivers/teachers should (1):
-Provide a variety of fruits and vegetables.
-Serve a fruit and/or vegetable during scheduled snacks.
-Provide one serving each of dark-green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables weekly.
-Serve whole grains and whole-grain products.
-Limit yogurt to no more than 23 grams of sugar per 6 ounces.
-Limit processed foods to once per week.
Flavored milks contain higher amounts of added sugars and should not be served. Facilities are encouraged to incorporate seasonal/locally produced foods into meals. Water should not be offered to children during mealtimes; instead, offer water throughout the day.
With limited appetites and selective eating by toddlers and preschoolers, less nutritious foods should not be served because they can displace more nutritious foods from the child’s diet.
Early care and education settings should check with state regulators about the timing between meals. State agencies may require any institution or facility to allow a specific amount of time to elapse between meal services or require that meal services not exceed a specified duration (2).
Following CACFP guidelines ensures that all children enrolled receive a greater variety of vegetables and fruits and more whole grains and less added sugar and saturated fat during their meals while in care (3). Even during periods of slower growth, children must continue to eat nutritious foods. Picky or selective eating is common among toddlers. They may decide to eat a meal/snack one day but not the next. Over time, with consistent exposure, toddlers are more likely to accept new foods (4).
US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service CACFP Nutrition Standards for CACFP Meals and Snacks (www.fns.usda.gov/cacfp/meals-and-snacks)
US Department of Agriculture Healthy Tips for Picky Eaters (https://wicworks.fns.usda.gov/wicworks/Topics/TipsPickyEaters.pdf)
TYPE OF FACILITYCenter, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS22.214.171.124 Use of US Department of Agriculture Child and Adult Care Food Program Guidelines
126.96.36.199 Categories of Foods
188.8.131.52 Meal and Snack Patterns
US Department of Agriculture. Child and Adult Care Food Program: best practices. https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/cacfp/CACFP_factBP.pdf. Accessed January 11, 2018
US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. Child and Adult Care Food Program: meal pattern revisions related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Final rule. Fed Regist. 2016;81(79):24347–24383. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-04-25/pdf/2016-09412.pdf. Accessed January 11, 2018
US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. Independent Child Care Centers: A Child and Adult Care Food Program Handbook. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture; 2014. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/cacfp/Independent%20Child%20Care%20Centers%20Handbook.pdf. Accessed January 11, 2018
US Department of Agriculture. Updated Child and Adult Care Food Program meal patterns: child and adult meals. https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/cacfp/CACFP_MealBP.pdf. Accessed January 11, 2018
Content in the STANDARD was modified on 05/31/2018.