Hi, Infant and Toddler Families!
We are a week in and everyone is starting to settle in. Your children are creating bonds with the teachers they see most frequently, and as they do this, they are learning more about each other. One of the things the teachers are learning about your child is what their personal routine and eating habits are.
Our infant classrooms are led by the children as much as possible. We do, however, have a few requirements that we must follow regarding mealtimes per the Wisconsin Childcare Licensing Regulations.
I think this is one of the more difficult transitions for parents to make, especially for our moms who are nursing or pumping. All our parents have developed a routine at home, and have figured out what works best for you and your child in that environment.
Some parts of your routine that you do at home are things that we either are not allowed to do, or may require a physician’s note. Below is a list of the more frequent requests that we have and how we can, if possible, accommodate your requests. This, of course, will not be an all-inclusive list. If you have a question about something that I have not listed, please check with your teachers.
How often will you feed my child?
We are required to offer your child nourishment at flexible intervals, but at least every three hours and/or when they show signs of hunger. The timing of this is from the start of the bottle to the start of the next, not when they last finished the bottle.
Sometimes a family may request their child eat more or less frequently. For us to accommodate this request, a physician’s note will need to be provided stating the requested feeding schedule.
Do you have to dump leftover breastmilk or formula?
Our team is very mindful of the work and dedication breastfeeding takes. It can be an exhausting and sometimes painful process. We also understand that formula is not cheap! Generally, staff will only warm and offer milk in 2-4 ounce quantities, depending on your child’s general habits. We know we can always get more if necessary, but we can never put it back. Once your child’s lips have touched the bottle, we have one hour for them to consume it. If your child were to refuse the bottle, we would continue to offer it throughout the entire hour. It is just as important to us that we don’t waste either milk option.
Can you put cereal in my child’s bottle?
The short answer here is no. Licensing states that “Age-appropriate food, including cereal, should be given to a child by spoon only. Age-appropriate food should not be fed in a bottle unless there is written authorization from the child’s physician.”
We are happy to sit down with your child and offer the experience of sitting up and having a meal and exploring the textures and the materials used, like their own spoons and cups.
If you prefer cereal goes into your child’s bottle, you’ll just need to bring in the note saying we may do so.
Will you serve my child just their peas first?
Once your child has begun solids, you may find they enjoy some foods more than others. At times, we have been asked to serve all of one item before another. This violates our licensing because we are required to offer a portion of all items sent for a meal or snack. Here is where this gets hairy:
Your child is 7 months and just started solids. You send only breastmilk/formula and a container of peas for lunch. Can we do this? Yes. One food at a time while you introduce them is generally the safe method to expose your child to solids.
Your child is 11.5 months old, eats a variety of food, and has developed a regular routine. You send breastmilk/formula, peas, string cheese, diced turkey, and raspberries. You ask that we serve your child the peas first because they’re struggling to enjoy vegetables, but it’s important to you that they eat them, and you know they will devour the string cheese first. Can we do this? No. Here, you have provided a wonderful meal that meets all the CACFP requirements. Your child is ready for this meal. We must allow them the choice of what and how much they are going to eat.
What is CACFP?
CACFP stands for the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Their standards are included in our licensing regulations. We are required to follow these guidelines for the snacks we provide children over 1. We also must share this information with you, and encourage meals that follow this pattern. Included are meal requirements for both infants and children over 1.
I am sure these changes can feel overwhelming, confusing, or even frustrating. It is so important to us that your child and family is taken care of. This is one area where it’s important that we work together to ensure your child has an enjoyable day. If you have any questions, stop and chat with your staff. We are here to help!