Kids spend a lot of time in the childcare setting, so naturally, they eat most of their daily meals there. For this reason, it’s important for childcare professionals to provide kids with healthy meals to help meet their nutritional needs. Unfortunately, kids are finicky eaters, so it can be hard to provide nutritious meals they will actually eat. Here are some tips that can help:
- Keep foods simple. Don’t prepare elaborate dishes for children. Rather than vegetables as separate dishes. If you mix the food together, kids will likely pick over it rather than eat it.
- Don’t bombard kids with too many new foods at once. Kids are reluctant to try new foods, so introduce them slowly and in moderation. You might try to introduce one new food a week. Also, don’t pile new items on the children’s plates. This may overwhelm them and make them reluctant to try the food.
- Provide a varied menu. Sure, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese are delicious. However, serving these items four days a week is not healthy. In order for kids to get the array of nutrients they need to thrive, your menu needs to provide a variety of healthy foods. On the days you do serve mac & cheese, give the kids a choice between two healthy vegetables to go with it.
- Don’t have meals too close together. While you don’t want kids to be hungry between meals, you want them to have enough of an appetite to eat the meals you provide. Space meals out carefully so kids will want to eat at mealtimes.
- Be sensitive to cultural differences. If the majority of the kids in your care come from the same cultural background, the bulk of the food choices on your menu will reflect this. However, you should make an effort to include foods that kids from other cultures are familiar with. You can use cook books or pull recipes off the internet to come up with meal ideas.
- Make foods fun to eat. If you’re having a hard time getting youngsters to eat certain foods, get creative with them. For instance, if kids refuse to eat those English peas, try using the peas to make a funny face on top of some mashed potatoes. This adds an element of fun to meals.
If you keep meals simple, consider cultural differences, space meals carefully, provide variety, and make meals fun, you can provide nutritious meals children will enjoy.