Child care centers play a critical role in supporting the development of healthy eating habits. Food preferences and dietary patterns are established in early childhood, and the nutritional experiences kids have in their younger years can have long-lasting consequences.
To encourage children to make healthier meal and snack choices, quality child care centers are making changes in their food programs. Here’s how daycares and preschools are working to help kids develop healthy eating habits.
More Healthy Foods
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are staples at quality daycare and preschool programs. And when fresh produce isn’t available, frozen is used – not canned – as they offer greater nutritional benefits. Meals and snacks also include more whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats. Whenever possible, child care programs serve whole foods that have gone through a minimum amount of processing.
More Appealing Meals
Children can be very picky eaters, and encouraging them to try different foods can be a challenge. To combat this, daycares and preschools make nutritious options appeal to kids. Bright, colorful meals, creative food arrangement and fun, interactive foods – such as broccoli trees with a kid-friendly dip – get children excited about eating. And with appealing meals and snacks, kids actually come to enjoy healthy foods.
Plenty of Patience
Food jags are common among young children, and many resist the idea of eating anything different. Quality child care centers help change this attitude by serving a variety of choices from each food group throughout the day and letting kids decide how much to eat. Food is never forced or used as a reward, and some waste is expected. With time and patients, children start eating a wider range of foods.
Encouraging Healthy Eating at Home
Are your kids picky eaters? Choosing a quality daycare or preschool can make a difference in their attitudes toward food. But, you can also take steps to help your children adopt healthier eating habits. Experts recommend that parents:
- Offer a range of healthy snack options
- Have children help shop for healthy foods
- Allow kids to assist with cooking
- Model healthy eating habits
- Avoid pressuring kids to eat
- Choose non-food rewards
Are you looking for a quality child care program in northern Utah? At Lit’l Scholars Learning Centers, we understand the importance of promoting healthy eating habits. Our goal is to improve the nutritional well-being of the children in our care by helping them learn to enjoy healthier choices.
Lit’l Scholars Learning Centers has two convenient locations, in Salt Lake City and Taylorsville, Utah. For an in-person tour, or to learn more about the food program at our child care centers, contact us today.