What does it mean to feed an infant in a way that is “consistent with the infant’s eating habits”?
May a parent donate extra formula or food received through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children’s (WIC) to his or her infant’s center or day care home?
- CACFP centers and day care homes must offer all infants in their care meals that comply with the infant meal pattern requirements (7 CFR 226.20(b)). However, infants do not eat on a strict schedule so it is best to watch the infant for hunger cues, and not the clock. Along with watching for hunger cues, child care providers should watch for satiety cues to know when the infant is full. If an infant does not consume all the food that is served to them at a meal or snack, the child care provider may safely store the remaining food and serve it at another time. As long as all the required food components are offered over the course of the day, the meals may be reimbursable. Infant meals must not be disallowed due solely to the fact that they are served outside of the established meal time periods.
Why are parents or guardians no longer allowed to provide the majority of the meal components for infants in the updated infant meal patterns?
- A parent may provide one meal component for their own infant or infants, such as infant formula received through WIC. However, parents or guardians cannot donate formula or food they receive through WIC to the center or day care home for general use. Parents or guardians with formula or food received through WIC that their child has not consumed should be referred back to their WIC program for guidance.
- FNS made this change to help maintain the integrity of the CACFP. The previous infant meal pattern allowed parents or guardians to supply all but one of the required components of a reimbursable meal. Under the updated infant meal patterns, starting October 1, 2017, parents or guardians may only supply one component of a reimbursable meal. FNS recognizes that infants have unique dietary needs and parents or guardians are often most in touch with their infant’s dietary preferences. However, this change will help ensure that centers and day care homes are not encouraging or requiring parents or guardians to supply the food in order to reduce costs.
What meal components can a parent or guardian provide for their infants?
- Parents or guardians may choose to provide one of the meal components in the updated CACFP infant meal patterns, as long as this is in compliance with local health codes. A parent or guardian may choose to supply expressed breastmilk or a creditable infant formula CACFP 23-2016 August 31, 2016 Page 1 Attachment A even when the infant is only consuming breastmilk or infant formula. And, starting October 1, 2017, a mother may directly breastfeed her infant on-site and the meal will be reimbursable.
- If an infant is developmentally ready to consume solid foods and the parent or guardian chooses to supply expressed breastmilk or a creditable infant formula or directly breastfeed on-site, then the center or day care home must provide all the other required meal components in order for the meal to be reimbursable. Alternatively, a parent or guardian may choose to provide a solid food component if the infant is developmentally ready to consume solid foods. In this situation, the center or day care home must supply all the other required meal components, including iron-fortified infant formula.
- State agencies and sponsoring organizations must ensure that the parent or guardian is truly choosing to provide the preferred component and that the center or day care home has not requested or required the parent or guardian to provide the components in order to complete the meal and reduce costs.
Breastmilk and Infant Formula
Do CACFP infant formulas have to be approved by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)?
- No, CACFP infant formulas do not have to be approved by WIC. WIC’s infant formula requirements vary slightly from CACFP’s, including a higher iron requirement (1.5 mg of iron per 100 calories). Therefore, some infant formulas that may be creditable in CACFP, such as infant formulas with 1 mg of iron per 100 calories, may not be eligible in WIC.