Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.5 Meal Service, Seating, and Supervision

4.5.0 Activities that Are Incompatible with Eating

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 8/25/2016.


Children should be seated when eating. Caregivers/teachers should ensure that children do not eat when standing, walking, running, playing, lying down, watching TV, playing on the computer, participating in arts and crafts projects that do not involve food, or riding in vehicles.

Children should not be allowed to continue to feed themselves or continue to be assisted with feeding themselves if they begin to fall asleep while eating. Caregivers/teachers should check that no food is left in a child’s mouth before laying a child down to sleep.

Seating children, while they are eating, reduces the risk of aspiration (1-5). Eating while doing other activities (including playing, walking around, or sitting at a computer) limits opportunities for socialization during meals and snacks. Eating while watching television is associated with an increased risk of obesity (6-8). Continuing to eat while falling asleep puts the child at great risk for gagging or choking.
Staff can role model appropriate eating behaviors by sitting down when they are eating and eating “family style” with the children when possible.
For additional information, see Building Mealtime Environments and Relationships: An Inventory for Feeding Young Children in Group Settings
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Screen Time/Digital Media Use Socialization During Meals Foods that Are Choking Hazards Proper Use of Art and Craft Materials
  1. 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.
  2. Lally, J. R., A. Griffin, E. Fenichel, M. Segal, E. Szanton, B. Weissbourd. 2003. Caring for infants and toddlers in groups: Developmentally appropriate practice. Arlington, VA: Zero to Three.
  3. Endres, J. B., R. E. Rockwell. 2003. Food, nutrition, and the young child. 4th ed. New York: Macmillan.
  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2002. Making nutrition count for children - Nutrition guidance for child care homes. Washington, DC: USDA.
  5. AAP Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. 2010. Policy statement - Prevention of choking among children.
  6. Briley, M., C. Roberts-Gray. 2005. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Benchmarks for nutrition programs in child care settings. J Am Dietetic Association 105:979–86.
  7. Dennison, B. A., T. A. Erb, P. L. Jenkins. 2002. Television viewing and television in bedroom associated with overweight risk among low-income preschool children. Pediatrics 109:1028-35.
  8. Mendoza, J. A., F. J. Zimmerman, D. A. Christakis. 2007. Television viewing, computer use, obesity, and adiposity in US preschool children. Int J Behav Nutr Physical Activity 4, no. 44 (September 25).
  9. Art and Creative Materials Institute. 2010. Safety - what you need to know.
  10. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Art and craft safety guide. Bethesda, MD: CPSC.

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 8/25/2016.