Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health. But is nutrition in early childhood the same as adult nutrition? In this blog we discuss the considerations of good nutrition in the early days of development.
Balanced nutrition is significant during early childhood, as it is a time of accelerated growth, development and activity. General eating habits and patterns are formed in the first few years of a child’s life. Poor nutrition during these years is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many more health issues. Creche providers therefore have a responsibility and role to play in introducing children to a wide variety of nutritious foods and demonstrating a structured pattern of regular meals and healthy snacks. The arrangements for children’s meals and snacks will of course vary considerably between different Creche providers. It is important that as both parents and Creche providers that you take on and understand the nature of good nutrition and how it will benefit the children.
Some Creches may provide all meals, snacks and drinks. Below, we chalk out some guidelines on how to ensure children are receiving a healthy, balanced diet on a daily basis. In some cases, parents provide their kids meals in Creches, either way, this blog will give you an idea on considerations.
When providing food for young children, consideration must be given to the following points:
- Children’s appetites may vary, not only from day to day, but also from one meal to the next
- Young children are very active and have high energy and nutrient needs in proportion to their small body size
- Children have smaller stomachs than adults so it is important to consider portion size when plating food
- Every day, children need three meals plus snacks. Use the ideas given in this document to provide nutritious meals and snacks
- Children should be encouraged to drink adequate amounts of water daily
- Snacks and drinks taken between meals should be sugar-free to prevent health issues and tooth decay
- Avoid low fat or diet products, as young children need the extra calories from fat to grow and develop properly
- A diet high in fibre is not suitable for young children. It can fill them up without providing all the nutrients they require. Foods of varying fibre content should be offered, both white and wholemeal breads and pasta; a variety of breakfast cereals, e.g Corn Flakes, Weetabix, porridge, etc.
- Dry, unprocessed bran should never be used as it can reduce the absorption of important nutrients and can cause bloating, wind and loss of appetite
- Do not add salt to food either in cooking or at the table, as babies’ kidneys are not fully developed. Too much salt is linked with high blood pressure later in life and may encourage a preference for salty food, which is difficult to change
- Whole nuts are unsuitable for children under the age of five years because of the risk of choking
- It is recommended that grapes and cherry tomatoes are sliced or halved length ways or prevent choking
Leave it to the experts…
At Early Days Foods we take pride in providing healthy children’s meals for nursery children throughout the island of Ireland, providing home quality meals. We are a specialised catering service which helps nurseries serve quality meals for their children 52-weeks a year, just like you would at home.
Early Days Foods is one of Ireland’s premier Nursery food providers, with an extensive menu. Your kids can enjoy a healthy range of quality meals just like home without the extensive costs of preparing the food in-house. Our mission is to make mealtimes easy and healthy, one nursery at a time.