The recent pandemic has had a big impact on children’s health, with a high increase in tooth decay and obesity. Recent studies show that over 23% of children were experiencing tooth decay by the time they reached 5years and nearly 28% of children were starting school as overweight or obese. Children should be encouraged to enjoy food but doing so through a healthy balanced nutritious diet that will help support their healthy growth and development.
Good nutrition during the first 2 years of life is vital for healthy growth and development. Starting good nutritional practices and offering a variety of food sources early can support children to develop healthy dietary patterns and eating habits to develop their palate; however, as a full-time parent or working parent this can sometimes be difficult to maintain despite your good intentions.
Monkey Puzzle understand these challenges of parenting and we shape considered, healthy menu choices. Providing children with those fundamental meals means they’re more energetic and are ready to play and learn. We locally source produce where possible and all meals are freshly prepared and cooked on site daily by our nursery chefs.
Nutrition is known to be the single greatest environmental influence on babies in the womb and during infancy, and it remains essential throughout the first years of life. The role of nutrition on brain development is complex. As a childcare professional and a parent, I know that the weaning process can be a stressful experience. Our Monkey Puzzle teams work alongside parents throughout this process to make this as simple and stress free as possible. Obtaining dietary histories, screening for food insecurity and actively coaching and supporting parents are crucial steps that our practitioners implement on a personal level.
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. We use the three colours to highlight: green as the child having no dietary requirements, amber as the child having intolerances and red as the child having an allergy.
At Monkey Puzzle, children assist in setting the table with their own traffic light place mats. Adding this as a part of our daily routine means that children can 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.
There are currently no mandatory standards in Early Years settings to provide a healthy balanced diet; there is however, the eat better start better guidelines. In addition to this the EYFS nutrition requirements include; access to healthier food, promoting good oral health and skills to make healthier choices. These are central to building our nursery menus along with the nutritional expertise and creativity of our chefs.
At Monkey Puzzle nutrition continues to be a crucial part of our nursery experience and we constantly evolve our menus, working with parents and latest nutritional information and guidance to ensure the children in our care can develop a healthy start in life.