Early Feeding in Early Care Program

How we feed kids matters as much as what we feed them. The Strong4Life Early Feeding in Early Care program aims to help teachers, administrators and other staff follow early feeding best practices, including:

  • Providing healthy, developmentally appropriate foods and drinks
  • Practicing responsive caregiving during meals, or “responsive feeding.”
  • Supporting the development of children’s feeding skills and milestones.
  • Integrating mealtime with other domains of child development.

Participating programs receive training and resources, and an option to nominate a peer-coach “Champion” to receive individualized coaching to support best practice implementation.

Young children are developing feeding skills and taste preferences that build the foundation for lifelong eating habits. Although babies and children develop at different rates, many important feeding milestones occur between birth and 5 years of age.

Infant feeding milestones and behaviors
1-year-old feeding milestones and behaviors
2-year-old feeding milestones and behaviors

Intentionally planned mealtimes and food-related experiences support all 5 domains of child development within the Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (GELDS):

  • Physical development and motor skills. Healthy, developmentally appropriate foods and feeding practices support proper growth, sensory experiences and fine motor skill development.
  • Social and emotional development. Responsive feeding practices and mealtime routines promote self-regulation and help children bond with their caregivers while developing a sense of self.
  • Communication, language and literacy. Mealtime provides an opportunity to support nonverbal and verbal cues of hunger and fullness, and to help children develop language connecting food and mealtime to the world around them.
  • Cognitive development and general knowledge. Food-based learning activities and mealtimes provide opportunities to connect food with math, science, social studies, creative development and more.
  • Approaches to play and learning. Encouraging feeding milestone practice and achievement supports the development of initiative, exploration and persistence.

Get more information about how to incorporate the GELDS during mealtime.


If you have questions or are interested in more information, email us at Strong4LifeECE@choa.org.