As a childcare provider, I've fed a lot of children over the years.
And while I certainly don't know everything about this, here are a few tips I've found for getting the toddlers and preschoolers at my table to eat a bit better.
1) A small plate. I use the salad/dessert size from my regular set of dishes. So far I haven't had any trouble with breakage, but then I haven't given them to really young people who are more apt to throw their plates on the floor nor do we have tile floors.
2) Small servings. For some reason, a huge amount of food intimidates a lot of kids. I usually give a tablespoonful at a time for young ones with a bit larger serving for older children. They can always ask for seconds!
3) Food cut into more manageable sizes. Whole sandwiches cut int quarters. An apple in slices rather than whole. And so on.
4) Don't offer a lot of snacks. This sounds strict, I know, but they eat better if they don't have a lot of food in between meals. Water is available anytime they want it and an afternoon snack is always offered. I would rather give them an early lunch most days than have them fill up on snacks and then not eat at mealtime. Of course, this rule varies from child to child and from day to day. Some days, we all need a mid-morning snack to keep us going!
These little tips work for me!
What are your ideas for feeding small children?