As a working parent, a child care program is the best option to give your children the appropriate amount of attention they need. When deciding to enroll your child, especially an infant (3-12 months) in a daycare program, one of the most important focuses should be nutrition. Nutrition is essential to a baby’s growth and, therefore, should be given adequate attention. How do you know if your infant is receiving proper nutrition in the daycare?
There are standard procedures followed by daycares, but it is common to consult the parents when it comes to your child’s eating schedule. Typically the parents are asked what kind of milk (breastfeed or formula) should be given to their child for the first four to six months. The feeding schedule, amount, and brand (for formula milk) are also duly noted for reference. The feeding routine which include the necessary details is posted outside the room for all to see. This is done in order to ensure that each child is not underfed or overfed. It also provide a monitoring system of both the child care providers and the parents/family members.
As the baby gets older and is able to take in small amounts of solid food, the daycare will propose daily, weekly, or monthly menus. In Alberta, licensed daycares are required to adhere to nutrition guidelines set out by the government which includes feeding each child nutritious food and avoiding junk food. Moreover, daycares must also take note of the child’s food allergy and dietary restrictions. Most daycares also strictly implement a fixed meal and snacks schedule in order to teach children proper eating manners and habits. The child care providers of the daycares are further instructed to be role models of healthy lifestyle in front of the children.
Lastly, child care providers are encouraged to disclose all information that are necessary regarding the child’s nutrition plan which include changes in the menu plan and food preparation processes. The ingredients are not the sole important thing to consider for good nutrition but also the process of food preparation. Some food preparation process are healthier than others. For example, some parents would prefer baked to fried. By disclosing the process of food making, you, the parents, can be assured your child is getting the right nutrition in a healthy environment.
With this kind of open and transparent relationship between the daycare and the parents, nutrition will be the least of your worries. You can rest assured knowing you do have a say in your child’s nutrition. The best way to know if your child is eating enough and getting the right nutrition is to just ask your child care provider.
If you are interested to learn more on this subject, we recommend you download the ‘Healthy Eating For Children in Childcare Centres’ booklet published by the Government of Alberta.