All children in Early Learning Centres need regular healthy meals, snacks and fluids (drinks). Promoting children’s health is essential to good quality education and care. It’s vital that children in care are offered nutritious meals and enjoy positive mealtime experiences.
Research studies have indicated that “healthy” food choices such as fruits and vegetables have physical and mental health benefits. While high-caloric foods may taste better and can alleviate a negative mood in the short term, they can have long-term detrimental effects.
All Early Learning Centres are responsible for promoting good nutrition for children in their care. Early Learning Centres and all Educators should be familiar with hygiene standards, nutrition principles for children and food safety laws.
The service provider can help children to eat healthy meals and to develop positive eating habits, which is a shared responsibility between Educators and children.
Educators together with centre staff are responsible for:
- Scheduling regular times for meals and snacks that meet the children’s needs
- Planning a healthy and nutritious balanced menu
- Preparing food in a safe and hygienic way
- Supporting children to come to the eating area for meals and snacks
- Creating a relaxed and pleasant social environment at mealtimes
- Respecting children’s choices
Children are responsible for:
- Choosing which of the healthy food options offered, they want to eat
- Deciding how much food they want to eat
When enrolling in the centre, a parent should be encouraged to share their child’s individual needs and routines. Enrolment processes and the orientation should allow the opportunity for parents to share this information which is then communicated with the child’s primary educators.
As children grow and change, so do their needs, preferences and routines. Therefore, it is highly important that educators engage in regular consultation with families to ensure they continue to meet each child’s needs and ensure consistency between home and centre routines.
Water is the best drink for children, and educators should check that children have ready access to water and are offered healthy food and drinks regularly throughout the day. Sweet drinks are not part of a healthy diet because they do not provide much nutrition and can contribute to tooth decay and weight gain. Sweet drinks include soft drinks, flavoured mineral water, flavoured milk, cordial, fruit drink and fruit juice.
Recent research published in the Community Dent Oral Epidemiol (Lin et al., 2022) on 494 children concluded that ‘the consumption of sugary drinks during the mixed dentition stage might be a major etiological factor for caries in permanent teeth. These findings could be valuable to paediatricians, dentists, nutritionists and policy makers’.
Enhance Training specialise in delivering nationally recognised Early Childhood qualifications that are facilitated by trainers who are highly experienced in the industry and in many cases continue to work within it. The Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care CHC30121 sets the foundation for anyone commencing their career in the industry. The unit, CHCECE031 Support children's health, safety and wellbeing includes nutrition and the importance of healthy food in early learning centres.
When it's time to upskill to the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care CHC50121, greater depth of learning in nutrition, health, wellbeing and healthy environments is a focus.
Further information of Enhance Training's early learning courses can be found here:
We grow our own herbs, fruit and vegies and welcome the team from Port Adelaide Community Garden to help us and show our children as part of our education program.
Nutrition is at the heart of our early learning program and our meals and snack times are calm, vibrant, educational and nourishing. Book a tour today.