Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.5 Meal Service, Seating, and Supervision

4.5.0 Adult Supervision of Children Who Are Learning to Feed Themselves

Children in mid-infancy who are learning to feed themselves should be supervised by an adult seated within arm’s reach of them at all times while they are being fed. Children over twelve months of age who can feed themselves should be supervised by an adult who is seated at the same table or within arm’s reach of the child’s highchair or feeding table. When eating, children should be within sight of an adult at all times.
A supervising adult should watch for several common problems that typically occur when children in mid-infancy begin to feed themselves. “Squirreling” of several pieces of food in the mouth increases the likelihood of choking. A choking child may not make any noise, so adults must keep their eyes on children who are eating. Active supervision is imperative. Supervised eating also promotes the child’s safety by discouraging activities that can lead to choking (1). For best practice, children of all ages should be supervised when eating. Adults can monitor age-appropriate portion size consumption.
Adults can help children while they are learning, by modeling active chewing (i.e., eating a small piece of food, showing how to use their teeth to bite it) and making positive comments to encourage children while they are eating. Adults can demonstrate how to eat foods on the menu, how to serve food, and how to ask for more food as a way of helping children learn the names of foods (e.g., “please pass the bowl of noodles”).
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Encouraging Self-Feeding by Older Infants and Toddlers Socialization During Meals Numbers of Children Fed Simultaneously by One Adult
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. 2010. Policy statement: Prevention of choking among children. Pediatrics 125:601-7.