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Promoting positive eating habits

It’s not easy juggling a work/home life balance sometimes. Also in this busy world with many of us in full or part time work, the responsibility for what our children eat falls with more than one person. We understand the importance of positive early food experiences, which is why, when your child is at our nursery we will be supporting and encouraging the following guidelines (information taken from Little Peoples Plates – Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers):

  • Eating together – around a table, as children will learn and develop eating behaviours from peers and adults.
  • Don’t’ insist that the child eats everything on their plates. It’s easy to overestimate the quantity of foods a young child needs.
  • Throughout the day we aim to offer foods from all 5 food groups. The four more nutritious food groups are fruit and vegetables, starchy foods such as bread, pasta and rice, dairy, meat and fish, and fifth is fatty and sugary foods which should be eaten in smaller and limited quantities.
  • The meals and snacks we provide will be regular throughout the day, and fit around the child’s sleep patterns.
  • Water  will offered throughout the day with milk provided with breakfast and morning/afternoon snacks (children should be offered 6 – 8 drinks a day).
  • Out door play is a great source (when the sun is shining!) for vitamin A & D – even toddlers eating healthy balanced nutritious diets may not be getting enough of these essential vitamins (according to The Department of Health report on Health and social subjects 1991).
  • It’s important not to ‘force feed’ – allow the child’s own personal tastes and preferences.
  • Never offer food or drink as a reward for good behaviour – positive attention is more important. By offering food or snacks as a reward the child will see these as more desirable.
  • Things to limit: crisps, pastries cakes and biscuits.
  • Things to avoid: sweetened fruit squashes and fizzy drinks, undiluted fruit juices.
  • Encourage at least one hour a day (easily made up of short bursts of activity such as playing in the park, walking to nursery) of vigorous physical play, limit TV and other screen activities to an hour a day and about twelve hours of sleep.

With all the rushing around we do, it is easy sometimes to reach for the easy, convenience shop brought snack or meal. But remember, this doesn’t always have to mean crisps or chicken nuggets. There are a lot of children’s ready meals ranges in supermarkets, which are low in salt and contain ‘hidden’ vegetables, so stock up on a few of these for the freezer when you haven’t got time to cook.

Most children love helping out in the kitchen, so do some weekend baking  for batch freezing (we have lots of recipes for fruit and seed packed muffins and biscuits, so pop in if you need some recipes!) A snack pack in the car is a lifesaver for those journeys home from shopping or nursery. Try and pack it with dry snacks that will last a few days such as breadsticks, crackers raisins, and rice cakes, then top it up before you go out with cheese cubes, sliced fruit, some slices of ham and a homemade muffin from your weekend baking activity!

By working together with parents and carers we can provide positive food and lifestyle experiences for even the youngest of children which will support them as they grow and develop to make their own healthy choices that will remain with them throughout their lives.

For more information on our nutritious balanced meals and snacks see our Food page.

Posted on 14/01/2013 in Childcare Tips, Featured Posts