Just as you wouldn’t build a house out of flimsy cardboard, you can’t build a healthy body on junk food.
In a sense, nutrition acts as the building blocks of good health. While eating healthily is important to everyone, appreciating how to get kids to eat healthy is especially critical in early child development. Nutritious foods provide children with the energy needed to explore, engage and enjoy their Early Years Learning journey. Healthy food also supports healthy muscle growth and bone development.
While it’s extremely important to their overall health, it’s normal for children to show reluctance when offered new food. Unfamiliar shapes, colours and textures can be off putting for children, meaning it often requires concerted strategies to encourage healthy eating in child care.
Why is healthy eating important in childcare?
Aside from providing children with the right amount of energy to get fully involved in daily activities, understanding how to encourage healthy eating in childcare is also critical when it comes to:
- Minimising the risk of developing chronic diseases
- Improving mental health and reducing strength
- Ensuring healthy bone and muscle growth
- Improving emotional regulation
- Boosting immune system
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Who is involved in healthy eating?
Considering that healthy eating requires more than just a child’s input, it’s no surprise that it can take a village when encouraging kids to eat healthy in child care.
To ensure that a child eats nutritious food, it’s important to listen to them and take on board their feedback. Supporting their interest in foods and incorporating their favourite healthy snacks into their daily child care menu ensures that they feel listened to and respected.
Educators act as role models in the child care setting. By encouraging children to eat healthily, rewarding them when they do and leading by example, educators can solidify children’s interest in new foods and unfamiliar textures.
Doctors and dietitians are a fantastic source of child nutrition information and advice based on medical research.
At Aurrum Kids, one of our main strategies to encourage healthy eating in child care is to talk to the experts for insights. Our menus are created by our partnered paediatric dietitians who use their knowledge to find the perfect balance between taste and nutrition.
Childcare chefs are a goldmine when it comes to healthy eating ideas for kids. They take careful measures to respond to the unique tastes and needs of each child, letting their taste buds guide the food that they cook. Chefs take on the advice of healthcare professionals and bring their menus to life using fresh and local ingredients.
Parents can further encourage their children to eat healthily at childcare by promoting the importance of a balanced diet at home and leading by example.
8 ways to encourage healthy eating
Here are 8 ways that our educators encourage both adventurous and fussy eaters to broaden their tasting horizons at childcare.
Give children meal options
Providing various meal options puts the ball in each child’s court, encouraging them to take an active role in their diet. Offering different meals and snacks also allows children to sample different foods and pick the ones that interest them, without feeling restricted.
Cook meals based on development stages
At Aurrum Kids, we have specific seasonal menus that cater to the needs of different age groups. Each menu is designed by our dietitians with their developmental stage in mind.
Infants receive softer food in sizes that are easy for them to grab, which encourages them to take an active role in their eating and further develop their fine motor skills.
Mix healthy ingredients in tasty meals
There are countless ways that our chefs at Aurrum Kids seamlessly incorporate nutritious ingredients into their meals. Whether it’s substituting normal pasta for whole-grain pasta, or mixing ingredients up to accommodate for a healthy variety of food, making smart choices in the kitchen can broaden the nutritional value of childcare meals.
Offer healthier snacks
Children are incredibly active, so naturally it’s important to have readily available healthy snacks to fuel their energy.
We have lots of different snack options at Aurrum Kids that we serve on a rotating menu to keep things interesting and new. As our children are always busy, it’s crucial that their minds and bodies are always prepared for their next activity, whether it’s painting, gardening or heading out on an excursion.
There are lots of creative ways we mix up our snacks. Vegetable sticks are a lot more tasty when paired with hummus or tzatziki,
Take children on a behind-the-scenes tour of their food
It’s natural for children to regard new foods as suspicious. Showing children where their food originates from and how it’s prepared can help them grow familiar with new ingredients.
At Aurrum Kids, our Playground to Plate program puts children in charge of growing certain herbs and veggies in our outdoor garden patch that we then use in our meal preparation. This transforms their passive role in eating into an active one that is rightfully a source of pride. When the food they grew from a seed finally makes its way onto their plate, the children are much more excited to finally indulge in it.
Let children make their own plates
By allowing children to assemble their own plates, our educators are supporting each child’s independence and decision-making abilities. Involving children in the preparation process of a meal is a fantastic way to get them interested in new foods. Additionally, encouraging children to ‘collect’ colourful fruit and vegetables helps to ensure that their plate is filled with all the right nutrients.
Lead by example
Educators lead by example, joining children in eating healthy meals and snacks. Seeing their favourite educator a food that they were hesitant to try can make all the difference when it comes to encouraging children to expand their diet.
Take a whole diet mindset
Nutrition is about more than just eating your obligatory 5 veggies and 2 fruits. Menu planning is informed by the whole diet and physical needs of each child. This includes limiting saturated fats and incorporating a sufficient amount of grains and protein. Taking into account different cuisines and dietary requirements is also an important part of supporting overall growth and development.
Healthy eating in our Aurrum Kids menu
At Aurrum Kids, we rely on healthy eating to ensure that each child can fully enjoy their time in our Early Learning Environment. Our menus are carefully curated by our partner paediatric dietitians to seamlessly blend taste with nutrition. Explore our menu to find out more about how our Educators prioritise healthy eating.