Supporting Healthy Eating
One of the most basic ways to show that we care about children is to feed them nourishing and safe food.
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Feeding children healthy food is important for a number of reasons:
- Food gives children the energy and nutrients they need to be active, to think, and to grow.
- Food helps children stay healthy. Good nutrition helps to heal cuts and scrapes and fight infections.
- Safely prepared foods help children avoid food borne illness.
- Children develop lifetime habits through what they eat in childhood.
- Children feel more comfortable, less grouchy and more secure when they are not hungry.
- Children develop self-esteem as they learn to feed themselves.
- When children eat with others, they develop social and communication skills.
Responsibilities of a Child Care Professional
Feeding children in a healthy environment is one of your most important responsibilities as a child care provider.
Ways that you should fulfill this responsibility are:
- Provide a variety of foods that help children grow and develop
- Provide food that is respectful of each child’s culture
- Pay attention to each child’s eating behavior, and communicate with the child’s caregiver if the child is not eating enough of the right kinds of food
- Feed infants when they are hungry
- Provide enough help so children feel comfortable eating while still developing their own feeding skills
- Have a friendly, comfortable place for eating–make food time fun, pleasant and educational
- Offer foods every 2-3 hours to prevent children from feeling too hungry (some states have specific regulations about this)
- Give children enough time to eat (30 minutes is often sufficient)
- Help children develop a positive attitude toward healthy foods
- Help children develop a habit of eating the right kinds and amounts of food
- Take care of yourself—eat well to stay healthy, feel good, and have energy to care for the children
- Serve as a role model for the children under your care
- Support the relationship between the child and parent
- Plan activities that nurture children’s development