“What will my baby eat today?” is a common question often perplexing parents when sending their children to the nursery, especially if they are gradually being weaned from breast milk onto food. By six months of age, a baby’s nutritional needs begin to increase, and any picky-eating habits start to appear, resulting in accepting or rejecting certain types of food. Many children spend a good deal of their time at nurseries, so it is extremely important to take this opportunity to invest in their physical and mental development. Therefore, selecting a good caring nursery that aids parents with such questions is a top priority.
Before discussing food types and meal times, one cannot deny that children’s appetite immensely improve when they eat meals together compared to when they are fed separately. Eating in groups, such as in nurseries, discourages food refusal. In the nursery, children should be fed at fixed times. Moreover, nurseries should set up a special diet plan suitable for the age of the children and reflective of their particular physical needs. This is what we do at Little Academy Nursery. We incorporate the parents in the process of developing a balanced eating plan, taking into consideration the portions and number of daily meals. At Little Academy, a nutrition specialist works with the parents to keep up with what the child eats at home and complements any nutritional gaps in the nursery.
As for the question of “what food does my child need”, the golden rule is diversity of nutritional elements, incorporation of healthy nutriments, and avoidance of harmful foods. Fruits and vegetables form the basis of a healthy diet, along with milk, dairy, vegetarian and complete proteins. Children at nursery age also need to eat whole grains, such as wheat, which could be boiled and served with milk or honey. Fast or fried foods containing too much sugar or salt, on the other hand, should not be family friends, especially to children, in addition to potato chips (crisps) and snacks containing preservatives and artificial colors.
It is important to emphasize that a basic diet assessment does not only take into account the quantity of food, but, more significantly, its nutritional quality. It is normal for your child’s mood to fluctuate from one day to the next. Therefore, food types should be diversified on a regular basis in order to help maintaining a healthy appetite.
Aware of these facts, we at Little Academy, in addition to offering an interesting daily program, we have numerous meal times a day, depending on the age group and the amount of time a child spends at the nursery. Three to five meal times are offered on daily basis. We also regularly encourage parents to send healthy diverse meals with their children. To add, our nutrition specialist, who is daily present at the nursery, offers advice on healthy diets on a case-by-case basis, and organizes relevant workshops and training sessions for parents.
As for food habits, our nursery will cooperate with you to reinforce healthy food habits for your child, such as eating in designated food areas. Among other healthy habits is to avoid forcing certain foods onto children, or pushing them to “clean their plates” because children at this age like to experiment with new foods. If forced to finish what is on their plates, they will probably just refuse to eat their food even if they originally like it. An effective appetite-improving strategy is to invite your child into the kitchen, a technique always employed by Little Academy where children participate in age-appropriate, simple, safe and fun cooking activities. Although the tasks are very simple, they are immensely motivative, and children greatly enjoy them.
Our last advice for you is to give attractive names for healthy foods. Instead of dull and boring names, how about: rice ball, banana ring, and funny fruit salad? Such fun names will guarantee that your child will eat with an increased appetite.