Providing children with those fundamental nutritious meals means they’re more energetic and are ready to play and learn – it is not just healthy eating; it is getting the most out of every day.
Good nutrition during the first 2 years of life is vital for healthy growth and development. Starting good nutrition practices early can help children develop healthy dietary patterns. Let’s start from the beginning and discuss feeding from a bottle – both breast milk and instant formula. It can take some time for your baby to get used to feeding from a bottle, so don’t panic, you’re doing great! The first and most important tip on bottle feeding is keeping your supplies clean to avoid germs getting into the milk or formula that you are feeding your baby. This is why, at every single Monkey Puzzle nursery, we have sterilization stations to ensure our babies supplies are completely sterile. We have also collected our top three tips to help you through this process:
- Relax – this is for both you and the baby! Choose a time where your baby is calm, but also take this time to get comfortable and enjoy the closeness with your little one. Feeding time can be the perfect time to forget the stresses of your day and bond with your baby.
- Perfect position – Hold your baby close when you are feeding them. We know that many advise to hold your arm at a 45-degree angle, however, if you’re like us and mathematics is not your strong point, don’t worry! The bend in your arm is the perfect place for you and your baby to be comfortable; just ensure your little one is halfway between sitting up and laying down and the bottle is always tilt at a slight angle, ensuring the teat is always full of milk.
- Temperature check – Babies work in the same way adults do, with their drinks not too hot and not too cold. The natural temperature for a baby is body temperature, use the inside of your wrist to check this as it is sensitive to heat, and if it’s a comfortable temperature feed away. Serving a bottle too hot must be avoided as it could cause baby burn.
We also know that the weaning process that follows can be a stressful experience. Our Monkey Puzzle teams work alongside our parents throughout this process to make this as simple and stress free as possible. When your baby first joins one of our nursery’s, we offer a registration pack which allows us to get to know your child, including any dietary requirements they may have, including their current stage of weaning. Part of this process includes the parent’s regularly reviewing our menus to ensure their child is trying things at home for the first time to reduce the risk of their child experiencing an allergic reaction whilst at nursery. This is then where our traffic light system starts.
Green – Your child can have anything.
Yellow – Your child has an intolerance or dietary preference (e.g., vegetarian or cannot eat pork)
Red – Your child has an allergy.
Our original menus were created by our very own founder and owner of Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries LTD, Rebecca Crosby alongside a nutritionist to ensure that even if your child has a specific dietary requirement, they are still receiving a nutritious and balanced diet.
Toddlers and preschoolers nutrition
Once children reach the toddler stage, we think it’s safe to say that the littles ones start striving for independence and control. They then begin their preschool journey at the age of three and this is a fundamental time for your little ones to ensure their minds are stimulated and ready to take on the upcoming adventures of big school. This means that the nutrition they receive is still of the upmost importance, ensuring that they have the energy and focus. Many parents can find this a difficult time to ensure all meals are nutritious, and that’s where Monkey Puzzle come in. While our toddlers and pre-schoolers are in different rooms, they have very similar mealtimes routines.
At our nurseries, we ensure that all meals that are provided are nutritious and appetising to the young minds. We locally source produce where possible and all meals are freshly prepared and cooked on site on a daily basis by our nursery chefs. We’re sometimes jealous of the yummy meals they have!
Before mealtime even starts, our children assist in setting the table with their own traffic light place mats and cutlery. Adding this as a part of our daily routine means that children are able to recognise WHY they have those specific place mats. This encourages children to understand their own intolerances and dietary requirements and why they may have these, e.g. being a vegetarian or being unable to eat pork for religious reasons, or if a certain food source may make them poorly. This then opens up new conversations on the importance of their allergies and dietary requirements.
Making mealtime FUN
We like to make sure that mealtimes at Monkey Puzzle are full of fun to keep those little brains working. Food-based sensory play is a great way to help your children build some motor skills. Not only does this let the children adapt their senses to new feels, colours and smells, you don’t need to worry about what they put in their mouth! The food is fully risk assessed and the activity is heavily supervised to ensure there are no choking hazards. The little ones are then given foods such as different types of pasta to explore.
The independence children have at this age is extremely important to cherish and encourage. This is why at some of our Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries, our toddlers and pre-schoolers can serve themselves at mealtime. We have created serving stations, much like a buffet, which supports all areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage, it also promotes sustained shared thinking through conversations about healthy eating and oral hygiene.
Our mealtimes are also a very sociable event with the nurseries encouraging their staff to sit and eat the same meals with the children. Again, this allows staff to create conversations with the children about what they’re eating and how it is healthy. Children are never sat on their own and we have found that if the children see the adults eating specific food it encourages them to eat the same.
We encourage all of our parents to try and make mealtimes as social as possible at home. This would mean parents eating WITH their children, and not after. This aids in ensuring your children are eating the same nutritious meal as yourself. This is also the perfect opportunity to teach table side manners, which is then continued when your children come to our nurseries as our staff are always teaching the little ones about manners and respect – discouraging them from wandering around during mealtime and to stay seated until everyone is finished.