Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.5 Meal Service, Seating, and Supervision

4.5.0 Developmentally Appropriate Seating and Utensils for Meals

The child care staff should ensure that children who do not require highchairs are comfortably seated at tables that are between waist and mid-chest level and allow the seated child’s feet to rest on a firm surface.

All furniture and eating utensils that a child care facility uses should make it possible for children to eat at their best skill level and to increase their eating skill.

Proper seating while eating reduces the risk of food aspiration and improves comfort in eating (7,9).

Suitable furniture and utensils, in addition to providing comfort, enable the children to perform eating tasks they have already mastered and facilitate the development of skill and coordination in handling food and utensils (4-6,8,9).

Eating utensils should be unbreakable, durable, attractive, and suitable in function, size, and shape for use by children. Dining areas, whether in a classroom or in a separate area, should be clean and cheerful (1-6).

Compliance can be measured by observing the fit of the furniture for children.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Tableware and Feeding Utensils
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF). 2006. Head Start Program Performance Standards and other Regulations. Rev ed. Washington, DC: ACF, Head Start Bureau.
  2. Holt K, Wooldridge N, Story M, Sofka D. Nutrition Education/ curriculum for, aspects of. In: Bright Futures: Nutrition. Chicago, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2011: 10, 55
  3. Benjamin, S. E., ed. 2007. Making food healthy and safe for children: How to meet the national health and safety performance standards – Guidelines for out of home child care programs. 2nd ed. Chapel Hill, NC: National Training Institute for Child Care Health Consultants.
  4. Enders, J. B. 1994. Food, nutrition and the young child. New York: Merrill.
  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2002. Making nutrition count for children - Nutrition guidance for child care homes. Washington, DC: USDA. http://www/
  6. Pipes, P. L., C. M. Trahms, eds. 1997. Nutrition in infancy and childhood. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service. 2009. USDA recipes for child care. http://teamnutrition
  8. Hagan, Jr., J. F., J. S. Shaw, P. M. Duncan, eds. 2008. Bright futures: Guidelines for health supervision of infants, children, and adolescents. 3rd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
  9. Fletcher, J., L. Branen, E. Price. 2005. Building mealtime environments and relationships: An inventory for feeding young children in group settings. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho.