Make sure your child is eating well at daycare

It’s easy to control what your child eats at home, but what about at daycare? Don't worry! Most daycare facilities serve healthy food if they’re regulated – but how can you be 100% sure? Here are a few tricks.

Make sure your child is eating well at daycare

It’s easy to control what your child eats at home, but how can you tell if he or she is eating properly at daycare? Rest assured: serving healthy food at a daycare is fairly standard, especially if they’re regulated facilities. But here are a few tricks if you want to know for sure what’s going on at while you're away.

The menu

Most daycares post in advance the weekly menus informing parents about the meals and snacks that will be served to the children. A healthy and balanced menu should be based on the Canada Food Guide’s daily recommendations:

  • Several portions of fruits and vegetables
  • whole grain cereal products
  • Fish, lean meat, eggs and legumes
  • Dairy products or soy-enriched beverages
  • Water rather than juice

When it comes to daycare and healthy food, preparing and cooking is of the utmost importance. Look for these words on the daycare’s menu: vegetable oil, fresh herbs, steamed, oven-cooked and poached. What's more, never be afraid to ask questions.

  • Learn about the foods that are used and how they are prepared.
  • And of course, it goes without saying that any food allergies or intolerances should be discussed with the head of the daycare.

The ambiance

When you’re looking into the policy on food at the daycare, don’t overlook the atmosphere that prevails during meals. As a rule, daycare staff know how to create a climate that stimulates the desire to eat properly.

Here are some of the tricks they use to encourage children to eat well:

  • They have clean tables that are nicely decorated and set up in a way that encourages talking in small groups.
  • They put up attractive posters of healthy foods in full view on the walls.
  • They let good smells emanate from the kitchen to tease everyone’s senses during playtime.
  • The educators sit and eat with the children.
  • They maintain an approach that’s positive, curious and enthusiastic when it’s time to try new foods.
  • They teach children to recognize when they’re full.

Many daycares include in their educational programming a few nutrition-based activities.

  • See if your child’s daycare places value on healthy food through cooking workshops, gardening, nutrition-related crafts and other activities.

Dealing with a picky eater

Does your child ever tell you that a food doesn’t taste good before he’s even tried it?

  • According to Quebec’s Referral Centre for Early Childhood Nutrition, three out of four children aged between two and 10 years old develop varying periods of a fear of unknown foods, or neophobia.
  • That’s why daycare cooks use repeating menu cycles that allow the children to get used to new foods at their own rate. What a great trick to try at home!
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