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: Encouraging Self-Feeding by Older Infants and Toddlers
Caregivers/teachers should encourage older infants and toddlers to:
-hold and drink from an appropriate child-sized cup,
-use a child-sized spoon (short handle with a shallow bowl like a soup spoon), and
-use a child-sized fork (short, blunt tines and broad handle, similar to a salad fork).
All of which are developmentally appropriate for young children to feed themselves. Children can also use their fingers for self-feeding. Children in group care should be provided with opportunities to serve and eat a variety of food for themselves. Foods served should be appropriate to the toddler’s developmental ability and cut small enough to avoid choking hazards.
As children enter the second year after birth, they are interested in doing things for themselves. Self-feeding appropriately separates the responsibilities of adults and children. The caregivers/teachers and parents/guardians are responsible for providing nutritious food, and the child is responsible for deciding how much of it to eat (1,2). To allow for the proper development of motor skills and eating habits, children need to be allowed to practice feeding themselves as early as 9 months of age (3,4). Children will continue to self-feed using their fingers even after mastering the use of a utensil.
TYPE OF FACILITYCenter, Early Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS22.214.171.124 Serving Size for Toddlers and Preschoolers
126.96.36.199 Numbers of Children Fed Simultaneously by One Adult
188.8.131.52 Adult Supervision of Children Who Are Learning to Feed Themselves
184.108.40.206 Foods that Are Choking Hazards
McCrickerd K, Leong C, Forde CG. Preschool children's sensitivity to teacher-served portion size is linked to age related differences in leftovers. Appetite. 2017;114:320–328
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Pediatric Nutrition. Kleinman RE, Greer FR, eds. 7th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2014
Williamson C, Beatty C. Weaning and childhood nutrition. InnovAiT. 2015;8(3):141–145
Fewtrell M, Bronsky J, Campoy C, et al. Complementary feeding: a position paper by the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) Committee on Nutrition. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2017;64(1):119–132
Content in the STANDARD was modified on 05/31/2018.