Tips to Make Mealtimes Joyful in Child Care
Happy and joyful mealtimes in the child care center help young kids enjoy healthy food and adapt healthy eating habits quickly. Follow the below tips to make mealtimes easier and a positive experience for kids in your child care program.
- Making Mealtime Positive – As a child care provider you should promote healthy eating habits in child care and help children develop positive attitude towards food. You can do the following:
- Inculcate healthy eating habits – Show your excitement for healthy food. Try talking about healthy food and how it is good for them. They’ll enjoy sharing the same table and meal with you.
- Infuse self-help skills – Teach children to set the table by asking them to help you, ask them to try and serve themselves, pour water or milk from a small pitcher etc. Children also learn by looking at other kids.
- Make them social – Essential social lessons are learnt during mealtime as children eat, share, help, observe and communicate with each other. They listen and learn new vocabulary while sitting around the eating table. Child care providers should sit with children during their mealtimes and encourage conversation.
- Encourage them for new & healthy foods – You can introduce children new food by reading a book about it or showing them a video of it. You can involve kids in food preparation; they’ll enjoy it and may be excited to try the food they helped cook.
- Making Mealtime Easier – Encouraging kids at the child care center to try new food can be challenging; it requires good planning. Here are some tips to make mealtime easier.
- Use child-sized furniture – Child care center should use child-sized tables and chairs (high chairs, booster seats) to make it easy for kids to sit and enjoy their meals.
- Use colorful and easy-to-use utensils – The utensils (both eating and serving) should be easy to handle. Make use of colorful utensils – this is not only attractive, it also help kids distinguish between cooking, serving and eating utensils. You can also have plastic squeeze bottles for jellies, sauce, jams and butter. It makes it easy for kids to squeeze and enjoy the taste.
- Try serving finger foods – Cheese cubes, vegetable sticks and fruit chunks teach coordination to kids. Finger foods are an excellent way to introduce new foods.
- Making Mealtime Attractive – Kids have certain food choices. The below tips may make mealtime appealing for children.
- Food color – Serving food of different colors make meal more attractive
- Flavor – Serve food with sweet, sour, less spicy and salty taste
- Texture – Do not serve overcooked food, because overcooking leads to missing nutrients in the food. Also serve food with variety of textures – crunchy, crisp, soft etc.
- Shapes & Sizes – Serve sandwiches cut into triangle and square. Serve square chunks of cheese and apple wedges.
- Familiar food – Choose to serve healthy food that are familiar with children.
- New with old food – Whenever you wish to serve new food to children, ensure you serve it along with one familiar food.
As a child care provider you should understand the importance of healthy meals for young kids. Promote progressive mealtimes in childcare, and intimate parents about your meal plan and activities to promote healthy eating in the facility. You can inform parents about your daily meal menu through Happy Feet – a child care app. It helps you provide calendar view of food menu and timely feeding report to parents quickly.