Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service
4.3 Requirements for Special Groups or Ages of Children
4.3.2 Nutrition for Toddlers and Preschoolers
126.96.36.199: Encouraging Self-Feeding by Older Infants and Toddlers
Caregivers/teachers should encourage older infants and toddlers to:1
- Hold and drink from an appropriate child-sized cup.
- Use a child-sized spoon (short handle with a shallow bowl like a soup spoon).
- Use a child-sized fork (short, blunt tines and broad handle, similar to a salad fork).
All of these are developmentally appropriate for young children to feed themselves. Children can also use their fingers for self-feeding. Children in group care should have opportunities to serve and eat a variety of food for themselves. Foods should be appropriate for the toddler’s developmental ability and cut small enough to avoid choking.
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 offering 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 old.1,3 Children will continue to self-feed using their fingers even after learning how to use a utensil.
American Academy of Pediatrics
Starting Solid Foods - https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Starting-Solid-Foods.aspx
TYPE OF FACILITYCenter, Early Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS188.8.131.52 Serving Size for Toddlers and Preschoolers
184.108.40.206 Numbers of Children Fed Simultaneously by One Adult
220.127.116.11 Adult Supervision of Children Who Are Learning to Feed Themselves
18.104.22.168 Foods that Are Choking Hazards
U.S Department of Agriculture. WIC Works Resource System. WIC infant nutrition and feeding guide. Chapter 5: Complementary foods. USDA.gov Web site. https://wicworks.fns.usda.gov/resources/infant-nutrition-and-feeding-guide. Published April 2019. Accessed November 20, 2022
American Academy of Pediatrics. Infant food and feeding. AAP.org Web site. https://www.aap.org/en/patient-care/healthy-active-living-for-families/infant-food-and-feeding/. Published July 06, 2021. Accessed November 20, 2022
U.S Department of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Service. Feeding infants in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. USDA.gov Web site. https://fns-prod.azureedge.us/sites/default/files/resource-files/FI_FullGuide_2021.pdf. Published July 2021. Accessed November 20, 2022
Content in the STANDARD was modified on 5/31/2018 and 2/9/2023.