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Healthy eating at home and nursery.

How to give your child a great diet from a young age.

Healthy eating starts at home
Healthy eating starts with fun at home!

What is healthy eating and why is it important?

Most of us all are aware that we should be eating healthily and that we also want this for our children but what does this term “healthy eating” really mean? How does this affect your child and how do you choose the best nursery for your child to ensure they get a balanced diet?

“Healthy eating is simply the process of making good choices about the food we consume in order to keep our bodies healthy”

Seems simple, right? Well the short answer is; yes! If we simply make good choices and eat a “balanced diet”, most of us can ensure we keep happy and healthy. At your child’s nursery school, this is especially important because you are entrusting us with the task of making sure your child eats a balanced and healthy diet that is full of all the right nutrients for their age group.

Superhero child eating superfood. Happy kid holding broccoli. Healthy eating and lifestyle concept. Green vegetarian food
Let your child become as healthy as a superhero!

We have more detailed information further in the blog post but for now read further on how you can encourage healthy eating at home.

Later in the article, you will find detailed information relating to the following:

  • Food and pregnancy
  • General information on a balanced diet
  • Food and religion
  • What local and national help is there relating to healthy eating?

How can I encourage healthy eating at home for my child?

Children are naturally curious and always want to play and explore. For most children, especially those in their Early Years, every experience is new and has the potential to teach them something or aid in their development.

“Children naturally love to play”

The easiest way to encourage healthy eating is to make it about play; make it a game, make it fun or interesting for them!

Here are some simple bullet points that you can follow at home to help encourage your child to eat healthily:

  • Colour, shape, sound and presentation ­– Make a face out of colourful fruit, show your child interesting shapes made by food such as broccoli, encourage children to explore the tastes of different fruits and talk to them about their colours. Listen to the noises made by certain fruits; the squish of a banana or the clip clop of a coconut!
  • Choice and self-service ­– Children are encouraged to explore when they feel they are making their own choices and are able to choose which things they want to try. The choice doesn’t need to be between a bag of crisps or an apple; give your child multiple healthy options and get them to choose for themselves. Helping a child serve their own portion as well can help foster independence and trust.
  • Involvement in preparation – Just like we mentioned above, giving children the freedom to explore and operate independently will allow them to feel that their own choices matter and that they have decided themselves to try something new. Getting children involved in the preparation of healthy food is a great way to give them this freedom and is a way to spend some wonderful time bonding with your child over food. What a lovely activity to do at home!
  • Repetition – Children sometimes need a bit of time to acclimatise to new flavours and textures. Give your child time by slowly giving them the same ingredient. Instead of asking them over and over to eat the same thing; include the ingredient in something different, try mashing up a fruit instead of eating it whole. Try and make each experience different enough but so that the flavour comes across.
  • Snacks and mini-meals – Children have much smaller stomachs than us adults and encouraging healthy snacking is a great way to ensure that your child gets good quality and healthy food more regularly. Swap out things and give healthy alternatives. Remember our advice above, give choices and make it fun!

These are all techniques that experienced nursery practitioners employ to ensure children are able to get eating healthy from an early age. Why not try some of these at home and let us know how you get on?

What should your nursery school be doing to ensure you child gets a healthy balanced diet?

Aside from following the techniques listed above, your nursery should be ensuring:

  • That children are given a wide range of healthy foods.
  • That parents and carers are listened to and that all dietary requirements and preferences are recorded and managed carefully.
  • That all children with allergies are provided with suitable alternatives.
  • That parents are given information and choice about what is available.
  • That a diverse and changing seasonal menu (See a sample menu for winter 2018) is offered so that children get a wide range of different foods.
  • Listening to parent/carer feedback and ideas about food / meals and working with them as partners.
  • Planning fun activities on a regular basis for your children that encourage healthy eating.

Below is some more detailed information about nutrition and healthy eating:

Food and pregnancy:

The food choices we make as adults have knock-on effects both in the short term and in the long term. The foods we choose to eat before and during pregnancy can also have long and short term effects on the development of your child. The food choices we make have even been shown to have an effect on the likelihood of your getting pregnant to begin with! As a result, it is important to know what is best to eat before, during and post-pregnancy when you are breastfeeding.

Here are some useful bits of information on the subject:

Pre-pregnancy:

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet is shown to increase the likelihood one may become pregnant! If this is your goal, then making good food choices at this stage can help even the odds!
  • Women should aim to be a healthy weight for their height (BMI link) as this has also been shown to aid in conception.

During pregnancy:

  • Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant or who have just become pregnant are advised to take a supplement called folic acid. This is to prevent a disease developing in your child called “Spina Bifida”
  • Women should avoid caffeine early in their pregnancies, as there is a growing base of evidence that shows this could be linked to miscarriage.
  • Foods that are commonly associated with food poisoning should be avoided later in pregnancy. These include:
    • Unpasteurised cheese
    • Raw eggs
    • Uncooked meats or fish
  • Women should not over eat or under eat during pregnancy. Eating for two is a myth and a normal diet with a good range of nutrients is all that any expectant mother should need.
  • Women should avoid alcohol while pregnant – this is to avoid foetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause irreversible damage to your child and their development.

During breastfeeding:

  • Women should drink plenty of fluid while breastfeeding so that this is translated to the milk produced.
  • Eating calcium rich foods such as milk and cheese can help for healthy bone development.
  • High-risk foods such as those listed above should be avoided. Raw/uncooked products etc.

What a balanced diet looks like:

Below is the “Eatwell Plate” – a pictographic image showing the best division of food you should be eating to form the basis of a “balanced diet”

The plate can be thought of as a “pie chart” showing the percentages of food needed. Or to make things simpler, just divide up your plate as shown!

Food and religion:

Many religions have practises that limit or restrict certain foods. This is a normal thing for billions of people all across the globe. At your child’s nursery, it is important that any religious practises you wish to adhere to are done so. You can speak to your nursery manager or to your child’s keyworker and they will be able to give you information on how we can help you achieve this. From simple things such as halal meats to vegetarian options the choices are really not limited! Please come and speak to your nursery manager today!

What local and national initiatives are there to encourage healthy eating?

There are a number of schemes available across the country, from things such as coupons for fresh fruit and veg, to entire websites that have amazing resources that can help your family make the best choices for them. Please see below for some links to healthy eating resources:

NHS Eatwell:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/

Start4Life:

https://www.nhs.uk/start4life

Change4Life:

https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/

What Brighter Beginnings Day Nursery can do for you?

All of our nurseries are rated as some of the best in Manchester and Oldham. We encourage all our children to eat healthily through all of the elements listed above. If you want to discuss more with us then please get in touch via the link below.

Is there a Brighter Beginnings Nursery near me? Many of our settings deliver in sure start centres across Manchester and Oldham and these are the places we run our outstanding nurseries.

We have nurseries in Blackley, Burnage, Charlestown, Chadderton, Fallowfield, Fitton Hill, Higher Openshaw (Wetherby Street), New Moston (Hollinwood Avenue), Newton Heath and Rusholme.

Please go to our nurseries page for contact information for your local Brighter Beginnings Day Nursery.

Alternatively call 0161 989 0450 now to speak to your local nursery.

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Outstanding Environments

Outstanding Environments

At Brighter Beginnings we are proud of our environments. In all of our nurseries we cover all the areas of learning as comprehensively as possible across all age ranges. Areas should be tidy and inviting and should encourage children to learn, explore and play. All our areas are well stocked with resources and materials which can help us with either child or adult-led activities.

Through a careful nurturing of children’s individual interests and planning we ensure that there is always something for everyone.

The areas of learning are:

Communication and Language

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Physical Development

Numeracy

Literacy

Expressive Arts and Design

Understanding the World

You will see in our settings that in all age groups and in all areas within our provision we take great care to ensure that all of these areas are clearly defined and accessible to children. During “continuous provision”, which is sometimes referred to as “free play” we encourage children to play in any of these areas either indoors or outdoors and we observe them to further understand their own interests. This helps us plan our environments and also helps us plan for the individual needs of the children.

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Learning Journey

Learning Journey

Your child’s learning journey is the wonderful voyage of discovery, play and achievement that your child sets out on when they come to Brighter Beginnings. We keep all our photos and observations on your children in a secure record online, this is for simplicity and ease of access by yourself and staff members. Previously we also kept these records in paper format. This learning record is mostly used by the key person as they are the ones who will be observing and assessing your child’s progress the most, but we encourage families to share photos and key moments in the child’s family life that we can include to show how they are developing outside of their time in nursery.

This amazing journey your child will go on with us is always entirely personalised to the individual child’s needs and interests with an aim to cultivate their interest in all of the areas of learning. To that end the child also has access to their Learning Journey so they can contribute to it. This way we can ensure the child’s voice, thoughts and feelings are also contained within as crucial element of recording their progress.

We now use online assessment and recording as our main tool, but previously we have used simple books or folders that we kept all our observations in. If you have had a child who has attended previously you may have had your child’s Learning Journey given to you in this form already. Nowadays everything is streamlined and online, this makes things easier to access, update and record and best of all is cuts paper waste and saves trees!

With this online tool it means that photos can be shared and added much easier than the traditional printing of photographs that was required. It also helps parents give their home life and family photos of key moments in your child’s development.

We hope you enjoy seeing this exciting journey with us through to its end when your child goes to school. If you have any further questions surrounding Learning Journeys then please contact your nursery manager for more information.

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Olympic Day! Monday 17th October 2016

Olympic

Today we had a big celebration throughout all our nurseries for the return of the Olympic athletes to the UK! We had many activities including; fancy dress – dressing up as favourite sports or countries, tasting different foods from around the world and we also had a sports day with egg and spoon races, bean bag races as well as just some food old fashioned running! Every child on the day received an Olympic gold medal as well as a certificate for taking part. Well done to our Olympic Champions! This was a fantastic day for children’s physical development and general health, broadening their interests into other countries and cultures and helping them to understand the world as an international community! Thanks to everyone who took part you did a fab job!

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