The A-Z of Child Nutrition
Nutrition plays a vital role in the growth and development of a child. Proper nutrition is important for children to be healthy and happy. It can also influence their eating habits when they grow up. Parents and childcare providers should make sure that children are eating a wide variety of nutritious foods and encouraging a positive mealtime environment.
Childcare providers are advised to follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The Australian Dietary Guidelines are based on the latest scientific research and recommend children enjoy foods from the following food groups:
• Meat & poultry
These foods are to be offered at regular mealtimes to meet the energy needs of a child, it is also recommended to serve the foods in a way that is suited to the child’s developmental needs, e.g. texture. Meals should be eaten 3 times a day that helps little tummies stay full throughout the day. You can also include a healthy snack in between meals to settle their appetite.
Children need to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. It also helps in digestion, kidney function and elimination of waste. Milk is a healthy alternative to water for its calcium, but do not to replace water altogether. Drinks such as cordial, soft drink, flavoured milk and sports drink are all high in added sugar and should only be drunk in moderation.
Sugar, fat and salt
Eating foods such as fruit, fish and dairy products that contain certain types of sugar and fat are good for your child’s body and heart when eaten in correct amounts. It is recommended that we limit the intake of foods containing saturated fat, added sugar and added salt.
Food such as lollies, chips, soft drinks and other takeaway foods are high in added sugar and saturated fats. They spike your child’s energy intake and can cause them to become overweight. Unhealthy food can also increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay, and can cause your child to develop bad eating habits.
This doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t have these foods altogether. It’s ok for your child to have an occasional treat in small amounts.
Regular physical activity is important not only your child’s health, but also for their social development. For young children, active play can be the considered the best form of physical activity. Children aged 1 – 5 years are recommended to spend at least 2 hours engaging in physical activities and 1 hour of energetic play throughout the day such as running, jumping, kicking or throwing a ball. It is also recommended that screen time should be limited to no more than 1 hour in total throughout a 24-hour period.
Food allergies are to be taken seriously in childcare centres. At Keiki Early Learning all our services are allergy aware and nut free. Depending on service specific allergies, there may be other allergy risk foods that are also not allowed in the service. Keiki Early Learning has a strict Food Safety, Nutrition and Beverage Policy in place to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Mealtimes are always supervised by staff, and all staff are aware of any known allergies.
Keiki Early Learning
At Keiki Early Learning our experienced cooks offer delicious and nutritionally balanced 3-week rotating menus that have been developed in consultation with a qualified nutritionist. We cater to all dietary, cultural and medical needs and all of our rooms follow dietary and food allergy requirements, so no child is left unhappy or at risk.
We also provide progressive mealtimes with a relaxed atmosphere where children have the opportunity to choose when they would like to eat their meals. Visit our Food and Nutrition page for more information.