Adults serve an important role at meal time

Child & Adult Care Food Program

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Adults serve an important role at meal time

Have you ever wondered why it is good for caregivers to sit with the children during meal times and eat the same food that the children eat?

Adults seated at the table, eating the same foods that the children eat, serve as role models. Watching adults eat influences children’s own food choices, encourages children to try the foods and helps children develop healthy attitudes toward the food. The adult can serve as a good role model by having a positive attitude toward foods and the meal time experience. Taste everything, trying not to show your personal food preferences.

While seated at the table, the adults can also provide guidance to help children serve themselves. Allowing children to serve themselves helps them learn to listen and respond to their bodies’ cues and to take responsibility for their own well being. It also helps children develop skills such as social skills and motor skills.

Start by letting children, especially the younger ones, serve themselves something easy such as rolls or bread. As the children develop skills, gradually increase the number and variety of foods they serve themselves. Pass the food around the table and encourage, but do not pressure, each child to put some on his or her plate. Allow each child to decide what and how much of the food to eat.

Try not to worry that some children will take too little. On the other hand, if some children seem to be taking too much and not leaving enough for other children, provide guidance.

Encourage children to take some of all foods served, but ask that they take only one serving at a time. Make sure children know that enough food is available for seconds. This may help them take smaller servings the first time around. You might say something like, “If you aren’t sure you can eat it, take just a little bit. You can have more if it tastes good to you.” It is also alright to let them know that they must leave enough for other children.

Serving sizes can be somewhat controlled by having the children use serving scoops spoons or ladles that hold reasonable portion sizes. Remember to make sure the serving utensils are child-size and that the children can handle them. Younger children may need you to physically assist or guide them in serving themselves.

Adults seated at the table can also ensure that children serve themselves in a sanitary manner. Make sure each child washes his or her hands immediately before the meal service and after coughing or sneezing into hands, or touching dirty or contaminated items. Remind children to take the food they touch. They should not touch food left in containers or the insides of the serving containers as they pass them around.

Adults seated at the table can encourage children to eat. To do this, talk with them about the foods during meal time. Discuss what the foods are, how they are grown, where they come from, and how they help the body grow. Also, discuss the colors, textures, shapes, tastes, differences and similarities of foods they are eating.

Make positive, encouraging statements when discussing the food and the meal. Avoid using negative, directive or pressuring statements. Encourage children to make positive comments about the food and guide the complainers to change the subject and discuss topics other than the food. Give a smile or a positive comment when children eat their food.

Avoid over encouraging, pressuring, or forcing children to eat or to make healthy food choices. Forcing, or even over encouraging children to eat, often leads to power struggles and disappointments, instead of helping them eat better. Making children eat and/or using food as a reward or punishment can cause children to dislike food and develop unhealthy attitudes about food. These attitudes can lead to eating problems in adulthood. Offering bribes or rewards for eating foods should also be avoided as this only reinforces the notion that certain foods are more or less desirable than others.

Adults seated at the table can encourage pleasant meal time conversation. Pleasant conversation at meal time creates a relaxed atmosphere that helps make meal time enjoyable.

Encourage children to talk with and listen to others at the table. Start conversations by bringing up topics of interest. Be a good role model in conversation; listen to the children and maintain eye contact. Help the children take turns; see that everyone gets a chance to talk. Set limits when necessary. remind the children to use “indoor” voices, change the subject when necessary, or suggest that a topic be discussed at a later time.

Again, meal time is a good time to talk about the different foods the children are eating and to teach them about nutrition.

The adult seated at the table can help keep distractions to a minimum. Children eat better when the atmosphere is calm and distraction free. When the meal time is chaotic and disruptive, it is difficult for children to focus on the meal and eat.

Children and adults should be seated during the meal and excessive amounts of getting up and down should be avoided. Children will often stop eating when the caregiver leaves the table. Serving the meal family style and placing all of the food on the table decreases the need for getting up and down to get more food.

Refocus the children who are bothering or distracting others or who are distracted themselves. Guide misbehavior into acceptable behavior. Paying attention to a misbehaving child may increase the unwanted behavior. Give the child choices which encourage him or her to join in the meal time in an appropriate manner, and then use natural consequences if the child chooses a behavior which is not appropriate.

DOs and DON’Ts for meal time

Adapted from: Bits and Bites , Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Adults serve an important role at meal time 2017-08-08T16:27:57+00:00

Fun with food

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Fun with food

Here are some easy activities to help teach children about different kinds of food.

Take a small group of children grocery shopping with you. Have them choose one new vegetable to try. See how many vegetables the children can name. Talk about the different shapes of the vegetables and the many different sizes. There are tiny red cranberries and huge green watermelons. There are long zucchini and short, round potatoes.

Play store with cans of fruit. Help the children to learn the name of each fruit.

Have a tasting party to encourage the children to try new and unusual fruits or vegetables.

Compare the insides of fruits and vegetables. Some are layered like artichokes, onions, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Some have small seeds, like tomatoes and green peppers; some have large seeds or pits, like peaches, nectarines and cherries. Some are juicy, like strawberries, oranges and melons. See how many different ways you can compare fruits and vegetables.

Help the children make a scrapbook by cutting vegetable pictures from a seed catalog. 

Fun with food 2017-08-22T19:09:28+00:00

Kids in the kitchen

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Kids in the kitchen

Kids in the kitchen are kids who like to eat a variety of foods. Try these tasty ideas to encourage the children in your care to help in the kitchen.

The children can:

  • Help make a cottage cheese salad for each other. Show them how to place washed lettuce on salad plates. Tell the children why the lettuce must be washed. You may want to use an ice cream scoop to dip the cottage cheese onto the lettuce and then let the children sprinkle a little paprika or grated cheese on the cottage cheese.

  • Put pretzel sticks in squares of cheese for a snack.

  • Help make toasted cheese sandwiches. They can spread a small amount of butter on the bread. They also can place cheese slices on the bread and top the cheese with another piece of buttered bread. You can then toast the sandwiches in a medium hot skillet.

  • Help make instant pudding. Teach the children to open the package and pour the mix into a bowl. They can help measure the milk. They will enjoy pouring the milk and then stirring or beating the pudding. You  may need to help a little to get out all the lumps and beat the mixture smooth.

  • Wash fruit, such as apples, oranges and grapefruit, in a sudsy solution. Teach them to rinse the fruit and dry it. Talk about the importance of washing fruit to wash off dirt and pesticides.

  • Help make a combination fruit salad. They can choose fresh or canned fruits. even young children can cut a banana or canned peaches on a cutting board. Talk with the children about safety when using a knife. Try making the combination salad with no extra sugar. The juices from the fruit will be flavorful and more healthy.

  • Help make a funny-face peach salad. They can wash lettuce leaves and pat them dry. They can lay a peach half on the lettuce. The fun part is decorating the peach like a funny face – try raisins for eyes, carrot slices for a nose, a radish slice for a mouth, cottage cheese or grated cheese for hair. Use your imagination for other foods to decorate the “funny face.”

  • Remember, when kids help in the kitchen, the recipes should not be too difficult. And their help is more important than a perfect product.

Source: Snacking Is Fun For Children, Ohio Cooperative Extension Service

Kids in the kitchen 2017-08-22T19:09:33+00:00

Why do we eat what we eat?

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Why do we eat what we eat?

Healthy food habits are formed during the preschool years. During these years, children watch the manners, eating behaviors, and food likes and dislikes of others. As a child care provider, you can help the children form healthy food habits and expose them to new foods.

The child’s family and community may help shape a child’s food likes and dislikes. The children in your care may come from many different backgrounds. They may like foods different from what you are used to eating.

Because the children in your care come to you with different food experiences, how can you offer a variety of nutritious foods they will enjoy? As always, talking with the parents is important. Ask parents how they prepare foods at home and what their children like and dislike. Make a written note of this information. Develop a plan to introduce new and nutritious foods. Here are some ideas for introducing new foods as well as activities and recipes using cultural and regional foods.

Tips for introducing new foods

  • Introduce new foods gradually.

  • Talk about the new food ahead of time.

  • Offer a small amount.

  • Offer new foods with familiar foods.

  • Don’t make a fuss if they refuse.

  • Offer it again – the more times they’re exposed to a new food, the more likely they are to accept it.

  • Remember that children go through stages of liking and disliking the same food.

  • Let parents know they have tried a new food.

  • Remember that young children tend to imitate others – they learn by both planned activities and unplanned examples. This can be a disadvantage when others – parents, providers and children – show dislike for certain foods. Remember to set a good example. You also can turn this imitation tendency to your advantage when a child sees others eating new or nutritious foods.

Fun with food

Have children bring in ethnic or other favorite family recipes from home. Have parents, grandparents or someone else visit your home or center to prepare food, tell stories, share music, and lead games from other cultures or regions.

Visit the library to learn about the food of other cultures. Share books and stories about other cultures.

Use holidays to combine to combine ideas, food and traditions from different cultures and backgrounds. For example, at Thanksgiving, share different American foods and how they began.

Discuss where food comes from – countries and region. Example: Peanuts grow in America, China and Africa. In Africa, they are called groundnuts. The peanut first grew in South America and was carried to the other continents. In the United States, peanuts are grown in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia and the Carolinas.

Grow plants like peanuts, alfalfa sprouts and green beans from seeds.

Read and discuss the story Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. This is a story about a character who would not try green eggs and ham until he was convinced to eat them by Sam-I-Am. He eventually tried them and liked them. Make green eggs by adding chopped parsley or spinach to scrambled eggs.

Have a taste testing party. hints for taste testing: You’ll have a greater chance of success with kids liking the food if no one is allowed to taste the sample until ALL samples of that food are passed out. That way, the youngsters won’t refuse to try a new food because the first child disliked it. And remember, set a good example and taste the food right along with them. It’s a good idea always to sit down to eat with the children to enjoy the food and their company and to set an example.

Send new recipes home with children so parents will be aware of foods they have tried at child care. Parents can use the recipes at home.

Make “I tasted it!” badges for the children to wear when they try new foods. Shape badges like the new food with a bite out of it. Children can help make the badges.

Let the children make a collage or drawings of favorite foods and holiday customs. These could be individual or made into a mural on newsprint.

Involve children in food preparation.

learn more about age appropriate activities

Why do we eat what we eat? 2017-08-22T19:10:19+00:00

Age appropriate activities for children in the kitchen

Child & Adult Care Food Program

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Kids in the kitchen – age appropriate activities

Use the following guidelines to select age-appropriate activities.

Two year olds can develop their large arm muscles in the following activities:

  • Clean vegetables with brushes.
  • Clean tables.
  • Wash dishes.
  • Tear, break and snap foods.
  • Dip foods into dips.

Three year olds can develop hand muscles in the following activities:

  • Wrap foil around food.
  • Wrap dough around meat or vegetable fillings to make many cultural dishes.
  • Press dough in a baking pan.
  • Pour from small plastic pitchers.
  • Mix with hands or a wooden spoon in a container twice the size of the amount of the mixture.
  • Shake small jars of food.
  • Spread foods using dull table knives or small spatulas.

Four year olds can develop fine motor coordination in these activities:

  • Use fingers to peel eggs, oranges, corn, etc.
  • Roll and flatten food.
  • Juice fruits.
  • Crack eggs with a table knife.
  • Mash foods.

Five year olds can develop fine motor coordination in these activities:

  • Measure ingredients.
  • Cut soft foods.
  • Teach knife safety: using a cutting board; using a knife that fits in their hands; using a plastic serrated knife for soft foods; showing how to hold a knife and cut safely. Always supervise when children are using knives.
  • Turn a grinder.
  • Grate food
  • Beat with an egg beater.

Adapted from: Why Do We Eat What We Eat, Ohio Cooperative Extension Service

Age appropriate activities for children in the kitchen 2017-08-08T16:30:32+00:00

Meeting the CACFP requirements for serving size when children serve themselves

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Meeting the CACFP requirements for serving size when children serve themselves

When children are too young to fully participate in family style meal services, you can put the required serving size of each meal component on their plates. But once they begin to participate in family style meal service, they control their own serving size. They may serve themselves more than the CACFP required serving, less than the required serving, or choose not to serve themselves any of a food at all. It is the child’s decision which foods to choose and how much to take from the selection of nutritious foods you offer.

The CACFP component requirements are still very important. They are established to provide a well balanced diet that provides children with all oft he nutrients and calories they need. In addition, you are required to meet these requirements for reimbursement.

If a child chooses not to take any of a particular food, do not pressure him or her. Resist the impulse to say things like, “Just try one bite.” However, do not take any food off of your menus because a child chooses not to serve himself or herself any. The more familiar children become with a food, the more likely they are to eat it. Next time they may try it, and eventually they may like it and soon they may choose to eat the required serving size. Try cooking the food a different way or in the case of vegetables, serve them raw with a dip.

If a child continues to refuse a food after it has been offered several times, replace it with a food that provides similar nutrients. For example, if you serve spinach and children continually refuse it, look for another green leafy vegetable to serve instead. Try broccoli or turnip greens. Children’s tastes do change, however, so don’t eliminate spinach forever. Give it another try in a few months.

If you have a child who continues to refuse all of the foods that fit one of the component requirements, like vegetables, for example, consider planning a special activity that might interest the child in the food and encourage him or her to try it. With vegetables, consider a field trip to a garden or to a farmer’s market.

If children take less than the required amount of a food item, wait until they have eaten what they put on their plate and offer them a second serving Let them decide if they want the second serving and how big that second serving should be.

Remember: Never bribe, threaten, or trick children into eating. Meal time is not only about children getting nutrients and calories, it is also about children developing a positive attitude about food and meal time.

Source: Managing Mealtime Madness, Provider’s Choice, Inc.

Meeting the CACFP requirements for serving size when children serve themselves 2017-08-22T19:09:36+00:00

When children won’t eat

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

When children won’t eat

Feeding young children can be a real challenge. We know children need a nutrient dense diet (lots of nutrients, for the amount of energy in the food) to grow and develop properly. But what can we do to get children to eat enough of the right kinds of foods?

  • Create a pleasant eating environment. Meal time should be a happy, unhurried time.

  • Serve familiar foods with new foods.

  • Introduce new foods one at a time to gain greater acceptance.

  • Serve age-appropriate servings. Large servings make children feel overwhelmed.

  • Allow children to decide how much they will eat.

  • Serve the foods children need to grow and develop. Remember that a picky eater may fill up on cookies at snack time if they are offered. Serve these foods only occasionally.

  • Allow children to participate in meal time preparation. Setting the table or helping to stir the vegetable dip may be all that is needed to encourage better eating.

  • Serve interesting foods that will appeal to children. Bite-sized pieces, interesting shapes, small muffins and funny sounding names are just a few of the ideas for you to try.

  • Remember that children can balance their diets over several days, not one meal or one day. Make a variety of foods available to theme ach week.

  • Serve attractive, good tasting food. Food should taste and look good as well as be good for the child.

Spicing up the flavor

Young children generally enjoy the natural flavor of foods. Sometimes it is appropriate to use seasonings that will add interest to the foods served to children, especially if the amounts of salt, fat and sugar are moderate. Spices and herbs can add to the enjoyment of eating. Keep in mind that children taste food differently than adults. You will want to adjust seasoning to your children’s taste. If you want to introduce new and interesting natural flavors to the meals you prepare, here are a few simple rules to follow:

  • Begin to use spices and herbs in small amounts. Start with 1/4 teaspoon for four cups of food. You can always add more if needed.

  • Taste foods to see if the amount is right for the children (remember to use a clean spoon each time you taste).

  • Introduce one spice or herb at a time, just as you would a new food.

  • Add new spices and herbs as they are accepted by the children.

  • Learn which spices and herbs work best with which foods; for example, cinnamon helps foods taste sweeter without adding sugar.

  • Grow herbs in the child care center or day care home and let the children tend the plants and harvest the leaves for use in the meals they are served.
    Add ground spices with other dry ingredients for easier blending.

  • Avoid hot peppers and other strong flavored seasonings that might be objectional to some children.

  • Store dried spices herbs and seeds in a coo, dry place to keep them fresh.

  • Store fresh herbs in a glass of water covered with a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Read more

Things Not to Say to a Picky Eater

Dealing With the Picky Eater

How Can I Motivate a Picky Eater?

Source: What’s Cooking?, National Food Service Management Institute. Used with permission

When children won’t eat 2017-08-22T19:10:19+00:00

Dealing with the picky eater

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Dealing with the picky eater

Getting a finicky child to eat healthful meals can be a challenge for parents. Experts in child behavior say the secret of turning meal time into a more enjoyable experience is taking into consideration children’s special needs and tastes.

The following tips recognize these special concerns and have been developed from healthful ideas to motivate children to enjoy “good for you” foods.

Children like familiar foods. Add a twist to favorite foods to encourage them to try new foods. Serve new foods with old favorites.

Children eat small portions. Cut food into small chunks or bite-sized pieces and serve them on a small plate, so the children aren’t overwhelmed.

Children like healthy food that is fun. Interesting shapes and colorful ways to serve foods interest children. For example, they enjoy dipping foods. A dip also allows them the choice of how much sauce or dressing to put on food.

Children like to help in the kitchen. They take pride and feel “grown up” when they share responsibility in food preparation.

Children enjoy a choice of foods at the table. Giving children an alternative to a new dish will prevent having to cook something new if they refuse to eat the new food.

Children need to have good examples set for them by adults eating healthful foods. Parents who no only eat the foods they prepare for their children, but also eat a variety of healthful foods every day will pass on good habits.

Children need a set schedule for regular meals and snacks. A firm schedule will help in planning ahead and will teach children to eat regular meals.

Keep healthy recipes simple. Easy recipes that take little time to prepare are best for busy parents and caregivers.

Teaching good nutrition and cooking at a young age builds lifelong good habits. Teaching the basics builds lifelong good habits. Teaching the basics – moderation, balance and variety – helps children understand not only that it is important to eat a healthful diet, but also why healthful eating is important.

Teach youngsters that healthful food is tasty. Forcing children to eat any foods is not a good idea and does not encourage the belief that “good for you” food tastes good. In the same way, using dessert as a reward for eating vegetables does not promote the concept that fruit and vegetables are a delicious part of a meal.

Providing simple, healthful cooking techniques gives children the ability to cook nutritious meals for themselves. Children need to learn how to prepare easy healthful recipes so they can make low-fat, complex carbohydrate foods a part of their diet.

Read more

Things Not to Say to a Picky Eater

When Children Won’t Eat

Dealing With the Picky Eater

Source: The School Food Service Foundation and the Sugar Association, Inc.

Dealing with the picky eater 2017-08-22T19:09:24+00:00

How can I motivate a picky eater?

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

How can I motivate a picky eater?

Getting a finicky child to eat healthful meals can be a challenge for parents. Experts in child behavior say the secret of turning meal time into a more enjoyable experience is taking into consideration children’s special needs and tastes.

The following tips recognize these special concerns and have been developed from healthful ideas to motivate children to enjoy “good for you” foods.

Children like familiar foods. Add a twist to favorite foods to encourage them to try new foods. Serve new foods with old favorites.

Children eat small portions. Cut food into small chunks or bite-sized pieces and serve them on a small plate, so the children aren’t overwhelmed.

Children like healthy food that is fun. Interesting shapes and colorful ways to serve foods interest children. For example, they enjoy dipping foods. A dip also allows them the choice of how much sauce or dressing to put on food.

Children like to help in the kitchen. They take pride and feel “grown up” when they share responsibility in food preparation.

Children enjoy a choice of foods at the table. Giving children an alternative to a new dish will prevent having to cook something new if they refuse to eat the new food.

Children need to have good examples set for them by adults eating healthful foods. Parents who no only eat the foods they prepare for their children, but also eat a variety of healthful foods every day will pass on good habits.

Children need a set schedule for regular meals and snacks. A firm schedule will help in planning ahead and will teach children to eat regular meals.

Keep healthy recipes simple. Easy recipes that take little time to prepare are best for busy parents and caregivers.

Teaching good nutrition and cooking at a young age builds lifelong good habits. Teaching the basics builds lifelong good habits. Teaching the basics – moderation, balance and variety – helps children understand not only that it is important to eat a healthful diet, but also why healthful eating is important.

Teach youngsters that healthful food is tasty. Forcing children to eat any foods is not a good idea and does not encourage the belief that “good for you” food tastes good. In the same way, using dessert as a reward for eating vegetables does not promote the concept that fruit and vegetables are a delicious part of a meal.

Providing simple, healthful cooking techniques gives children the ability to cook nutritious meals for themselves. Children need to learn how to prepare easy healthful recipes so they can make low-fat, complex carbohydrate foods a part of their diet.

Read more

Things Not to Say to a Picky Eater

When Children Won’t Eat

Dealing With the Picky Eater

Source: The School Food Service Foundation and the Sugar Association, Inc.

How can I motivate a picky eater? 2017-08-22T19:09:31+00:00

Things not to say to a picky eater

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Things not to say to a picky eater

The last thing these statements will do is encourage your child to eat.

“You can’t have dessert until you finish your peas.” By making dessert a reward you confirm that sweets are inherently better than anything else on the table.

“Eat your food. There are children starving in China (or Africa or Asia . . .)” Admit it. This sounded dumb even back when your parents said it to you.

“Please, please, please eat another bite.” Your child should eat to satisfy his or her hunger, not to make a parent or caregiver happy.

“What a good girl (or boy) you are, you cleaned your plate.” This may sound harmless, but in addition to implying that the child is bad for not eating everything on his or her plate, you are also actually putting a value on eating more. That’s the wrong message. A child should stop eating when he or she feels full – period. You might say something like, “Gee you must not have been hungry,” and simply take away the plate if the child doesn’t want any more.

When Children Won’t Eat

Dealing With the Picky Eater

How Can I Motivate a Picky Eater?


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Things not to say to a picky eater 2017-08-22T19:10:15+00:00
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