There is a lot to think about when feeding infants!
The teachers and infants spend a lot of their time in what I call “care-giving routines” – such as feeding, changing diapers, sleeping. We want to be sure that we are making the most of those times and taking advantage of teachable moments. For example, when a baby is being fed a bottle, the teacher should be engaged, making eye contact, while also observing the other children in the classroom.
Watch the video below to learn more about infant feeding:
We never offer a child a new food until we have talked with the parent (such as a Cheerio, new type of jar food, finger food). We talk with parents about what the children eat and their schedule, and we also help facilitate next steps as the baby grows and develops. Parents play a key role in making decisions about what their child eats and is important to partner with them.
Let’s talk about how to start the day:
It is crucial to engage the parent in a conversation at arrival time in the morning. This could be as simple as saying “good morning,” asking how everyone is doing and asking what time the baby got up and was fed. This all sets the tone for the day, as you plan the baby’s feeding and napping schedules. Without this information, planning for the day is more of a guess, something we want to avoid when caring for children. After receiving the information, it is recorded on the form called the “Infant Daily Log.” This log is the infant teacher’s “Go To” form throughout the day because it is here that all of the baby’s feedings and naps are recorded. A new log is created at the beginning of each month and is kept in a confidential binder at the Teacher’s Area. The Infant Daily Log must be filled out in entirety each day and it is required by DCYF Licensing Regulations. This information is also communicated to the parent at departure time so that the parent has a clear picture of how their child’s day was. This is also recorded in Tadpoles. There are 3 schedules for feeding – please see our policy on Feeding Infants.
To keep your classroom organized:
Each infant has an individually labeled basket that details what the child eats. If a child is drinking breast milk, that will be kept in either the refrigerator or freezer and will be marked with child’s name and date.
The next thing to consider is bottle feeding. Babies are fed bottles at the temperature parent specifies (cold, warm, room temperature). Parents must bring in a minimum of 4 bottles per day. If food is to be served warm, according to the parent’s preference, the bottle will be heated to a warm temperature in a bottle warmer, not a microwave. All bottles will be shaken before the fluid temperature is checked. Liquid must first be tested on the teacher’s wrist to ensure the contents are a suitable temperature. We do not feed bottles with food or medications in them. Be sure to use a burp cloth to protect your clothing from the occasional spit up.
After feeding the child, the teacher will empty and rinse out the bottle, even if there is formula/milk remaining, and return the bottle to the proper diaper bag. Bottles are sent home each day to be cleaned by the parents. Bottles must never be reheated, per regulations.
The best way to feed an infant is the one that is most appropriate to their developmental age. For example:
Babies who are unable to hold their own bottles will always be held by a teacher while being fed.
If the baby is able to hold the bottle, the child can be given the bottle in an infant seat or high chair.
Bottles will not be given to children in exer-saucers, swings, bumbo seats or any other piece of equipment except a high chair or infant seat.
Bottles are also NEVER to be propped, given in a crib, and a child is never forced to eat or drink.
It’s important to introduce infants to textures early on so they can transition more easily to finger foods. With this in mind, bottles should be fed to a baby after the food, unless a parent specifies. Please remember that we always get parent permission prior to introducing any new foods.
At approximately 6 to 9 months (as recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics), the infant lead teacher will talk with the parent about transitioning the child onto a sippy cup. At this age, babies also typically being finger feeding themselves lunch and snacks, with the assistance of a teacher. Unless food is baby food jar consistency, it should be cut into very small, chewable pieces. When items such as bottles or spoons fall from the high chair, we wash them and give them back.
Teachers should assist parents with gathering food items at the end of the day. Keep in mind any opened baby food is not sent home, nor is any food that is provided by Dr. Day Care. We encourage parents to send in the amount of food the child will need for the day to avoid discarding opened, uneaten food.
You will typically see this type of natural progression for learning to eat:
- Being fed a bottle while being held
- Holding own bottle, in a high chair or infant bouncy chair
- Being fed baby food/cereal in a high chair by a teacher
- Eating finger foods in a high chair with support of a teacher, also being taught how to use a spoon
- Eating in a high chair
- Eating in a sassy seat/clip on chair at table
- Eating in a chair at a table