Chapter 16
Feeding Toddlers & Young
Children
©2015 Cengage Learning.
Toddler Development and Eating
Behaviors
• Developments that influence
toddlers’ eating behaviors:
– Physical changes
• Rate of growth slows considerably
• Choking remains a hazard
• Appetite decreases
– Motor skills improve; toddlers can use utensils
and drink from a cup, but need much practice
– Small stomach capacity; must eat often
Toddler Development and Eating
Behaviors (continued)
• Social development
– Experiences frequent mood swings
– Struggles with autonomy and asserting
independence
– Still experimenting with strong taste and
texture preferences; not uncommon for
toddlers to spit out food or use their hands to
remove it from their mouth
– Enjoys adult attention and approval
– Neophobic
©2012 Cengage Learning.
All Rights Reserved.
Preschool- and School-Age Children:
Development and Eating Behaviors
• Developments that influence older
children’s eating behaviors:
– Physical changes
• Growth continues at a slower pace
and often in spurts
• Appetite is good, but children prefer
smaller meals and eating often
Preschool- and School-Age Children:
Development and Eating Behaviors
– Motor skills
• Are able to feed
themselves
independently; may still
have many spills and
accidents
• Enjoy helping with food
preparation
Preschool- and School-Age Children:
Development and Eating Behaviors
– Social development
• Younger children commonly dawdle during
mealtime; older children are often in a hurry to
finish and return to their activities.
• They imitate the food preferences of others.
• Older children are often eager to try new foods.
Supporting Positive Feeding
Practices
• Adults are responsible only
for providing nutritious
foods and meals for
children to eat.
– Follow MyPlate
recommendations
(Figure 16-1;
http://www.choosemyplate.
gov).
– Consider variety, flavor,
texture, color, and
temperature when
planning meals (Figure
16-2 and 16-3).
Supporting Positive Feeding
Practices
• Children determine what they will eat and how
much food they are willing to eat.
– Serving sizes should be appropriate for child’s age.
– Expect skipped meals and picky eating.
– Avoid letting children fill up on milk if they won’t eat.
• Respecting these roles reduces power struggles
and helps children develop trust and
independence.
Supporting Positive Feeding
Practices
• Children are in the process of establishing
lifelong eating and activity habits, so it is
important to:
– Be a positive role model.
– Encourage children to try new foods and activities.
• Watch this beautiful story for children by clicking on the link:
http://cdc.gov/CDCTV/KneesLifted/index.html
Children with Special Feeding
Needs
• Children who have developmental delays or
medical conditions may also have special
feeding needs. They:
– May not recognize when they are hungry or not be
able to express hunger
– Have a tendency to overeat
– Are more prone to choking
– May be taking medication that interferes with nutrient
absorption or increases the need for certain nutrients
– Have an increased tendency toward food allergies
Mealtime Environments
• Time meals and snacks so children
will feel hungry. Encourage
physical activity to improve their
appetite.
• Consider the ease of eating foods,
especially with younger children.
• Warn children 5 to 10 minutes
before a meal so they have time to
anticipate and prepare for a
change in activity.
Mealtime Environments
• Maintain regular times for meals.
• Make mealtime a pleasant and
relaxed experience.
• Don’t use food as a reward.
• Acknowledge desirable eating habits.
• Provide chairs, tables, and eating utensils that
are comfortable for children to use.
• Involve children in meal preparation.
Snacks
• Snacks can make a positive contribution to children’s
diets by supplying nutrients that may be lacking.
• Snacks should be nutrient-dense foods. High-fat, highsugar items fill children up but also replace essential
nutrients.
• This is a good time to introduce new foods for children to
try.
• Avoid letting children eat whenever they are hungry.
Health Problems Related to
Eating Habits
•
•
•
•
•
Dental caries
Obesity
Hypertension
Cardiovascular disease
Diabetes (Type II)
©2012 Cengage Learning.
All Rights Reserved.
TV and Food Choices
• The average child in the United States
watches over 40,000 television
commercials every single year.
– Children watch as many as 200,000 food ads
between 2 and 12 years of age
• Advertisers spend over $12 billion each
year on advertising aimed specifically at
the young people in America's
households.
©2012 Cengage Learning.
All Rights Reserved.
TV’s Double Negative
• Time spent in sitting and watching television might
be better spent in physical activity that would
increase calorie needs and thus make meeting
nutrient needs for the child easier.
• The majority of foods advertised during children's
programs are for calorie-dense foods high in sugar
and/or fat.
– High sugar, high fat, empty calorie foods
• Cereals, cookies, drinks
– Ads for fast foods
– Less than 5% of ads are for healthy foods
©2012 Cengage Learning.
All Rights Reserved.
Case Study
• Maria, age 7 years, is new to the community and
has recently enrolled in your after-school program.
She and her parents speak Portuguese, but very
little English. The other children are intrigued with
Maria and her “different” language. They eagerly
attempt to teach her some English words by pointing
to and repeating the names of foods and objects
with exaggerated clarity. Although Maria seems to
enjoy their attention and is responding to their
efforts, you (teacher) are concerned that she still
eats very little during snack time.
Case Study Questions
1. Why should you be concerned that Maria is not
eating?
2. What steps can you take to learn more about her
family’s food preferences?
3. Where might you access information about foods
and food preferences native to Maria’s culture?
4. Where might you access materials to aid in Maria’s
care and your ability to communicate with her
family?
5. Where might you locate an interpreter for
assistance?
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