One of the most basic ways to show that we care about children is to feed them nourishing and safe food.
Feeding children healthy food is important for a number of reasons:
Food gives children the energy and nutrients they need to be active, to think, and to grow.
Food helps children stay healthy. Good nutrition helps to heal cuts and scrapes and fight infections.
Safely prepared foods help children avoid food borne illness.
Children develop lifetime habits through what they eat in childhood.
Children feel more comfortable, less grouchy and more secure when they are not hungry.
Children develop self-esteem as they learn to feed themselves.
When children eat with others, they develop social and communication skills.
Responsibilities of a Child Care Professional
Feeding children in a healthy environment is one of your most important responsibilities as a child care provider. Ways that you should fulfill this responsibility are:
Support for Healthy Eating
Provide a variety of foods that help children grow and develop
Provide food that is respectful of each child’s culture
Pay attention to each child’s eating behavior, and communicate with the child’s caregiver if the child is not eating enough of the right kinds of food
Feed infants when they are hungry
Provide enough help so children feel comfortable eating while still developing their own feeding skills
Have a friendly, comfortable place for eating–make food time fun, pleasant and educational
Offer foods every 2-3 hours to prevent children from feeling too hungry (some states have specific regulations about this)
Give children enough time to eat (30 minutes is often sufficient)
Help children develop a positive attitude toward healthy foods
Help children develop a habit of eating the right kinds and amounts of food
Take care of yourself—eat well to stay healthy, feel good, and have energy to care for the children
Serve as a role model for the children under your care
Support the relationship between the child and parent
Plan activities that nurture children’s development
Food and Safety
Provide food that is safe to eat
Prevent injuries when preparing, handling, and eating food
Keep written policies, procedures, and health records
Keep confidential health records to record children’s nutrition and health, keep track of food allergies, know whom to contact if you need a medical decision about a child, and inform the parent about the child’s health and nutritional status to follow-up on a specific problem
Know and follow policies and procedures about caring for sick children
Make sure all providers know how to prevent illness and injury to themselves and to children
One of the most important things you can do for children is to provide them with clean, safe food. Cleanliness is very important in a child care setting because it prevents illness-causing bacteria from growing. Keep hands, equipment, dishes, containers, and food clean and free of germs to help protect yourself and the children from illness.
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