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Meal/Snack Pattern

Young children, under the age of six, need to be offered food every two to three hours. Appetite and interest in food varies from one meal or snack to the next. To ensure that the child's daily nutritional needs are met, small feedings of nourishing food are scheduled over the course of a day. Snacks are nutritious, as they often are a significant part of a child's daily intake. Children in my care for more than eight hours need additional food because this period represents a majority of a young child's waking hours.


A snack consists of 2 food groups and a meal consists of 4 food groups.
The four food groups are:
  • Vegetables & Fruit,
  • Grain Products,
  • Milk/Milk Alternatives and
  • Meat/Meat Alternatives.


I ensure that the following meal and snack pattern occurs:


a) Children in care for eight and fewer hours in one day are offered at least one meal and two snacks or two meals and one snack.


b) Children in care more than eight hours in one day are offered at least two meals and two snacks.


c) Children are offered food at intervals at least two hours apart and not more than three hours apart unless the child is asleep.


d) When children are thirsty between meals and snacks, water is the best choice.
I ask that parents supply their child with a water bottle (that is kept at my home) with the child’s name on it.
Encouraging children to learn to drink water in place of fruit drinks, soda, fruit nectars, or other sweetened drinks builds a beneficial habit. Drinking water during the day can reduce the extra caloric intake which is associated with overweight and obesity. Drinking water is good for a child’s hydration and reduces acid in the mouth that contributes to early childhood caries (baby bottle tooth decay).


Kimberlea Materi,
Aug 11, 2014, 1:31 PM