All children have the right to be provided with nutritious food and education on how to make healthy choices for a healthy life. Babies, children and young people should be provided with nutritionally balanced, safe and hygienically prepared foods to promote optimal growth and development.
Healthy eating in childhood means they will have less chance of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some cancers.
To stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight, children need to be physically active and eat the right amount of nutrients to balance the energy which they use.
During the initial contact with the family, all Nannies are to check with the family regarding their child/ren’s food allergies and intolerances, and not bring any items which the child/ren are allergic to any assignment (NOTE: Anaphylactic reactions). Be aware of these children during meal and snack times ensuring they always have their own separate food and drinks where applicable.
Planning for the provision of foods and drinks throughout each day must meet the Australian dietary requirements for each age group whilst respecting the cultural, religious, and family values. This incorporates breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Considerations such as colour, shape, texture and variety need to be incorporated into planning individual meals to encourage positive eating behaviours.
Encourage the children to be involved in planning and preparing meals. If children have assisted making the meal, they will be more likely to eat it.
Children have small stomachs, and their energy and nutrient requirements are best met through small and frequent nutritious meals and snacks.
Daily Nutritional Requirements
Breastmilk or formula provides all the nutrients for infants from birth to six months. When infants reach around six months of age, breastmilk and formula alone can no longer meet their daily nutritional requirements, and so other foods should be added to their diet. At this age, infants are also ready to start learning the skills needed for eating solid foods, and to experience new tastes and textures.
How much food do children need?
Based on the Daily nutritional requirements from NSW Health below is the recommended daily intake for children.
6 months-1 year: The first solid food offered to infants is often iron-rich infant cereal (Farex), which is smooth and easy to mix in small amounts, cooked and pureed vegetables (e.g. carrot, potato, pumpkin), fruit (e.g. apple, banana, pear), pasta. Offer coarsely pureed/mashed foods, progressing to lumpy and finely chopped options.
1-2 years: ½ serve of fruit; 2-3 serves of vegies; 1-1½ serves of dairy; 4 serves of grains; and 1 serve of lean meats and eggs.
2-3 years: 1 serve of fruit; 2½ serves of vegetables; 4 serves of grains; 1 serve of meat/poultry; 1½ serves of dairy
4-8 years: 1½ serves of fruit; 4½ serves of vegetables; 4 serves of grains; 1 ½ serves of meat/poultry; 1½ to 2 serves of dairy
9-11 years: 2 serves of fruit; 5 serves of vegetables; 4 to 5 serves of grains; 2½ serves of meat/poultry; 2½ to 3 serves of dairy
12-13 years: 2 serves of fruit; 5 to 5 ½ serves of vegetables; 5 to 6 serves of grains; 2 ½ serves meat/poultry; 3 ½ serves dairy
Foods to be careful with or avoid: –
- hard fruit and vegetables such as raw carrots, celery sticks and pieces of raw apple (these should be grated, finely sliced or cooked and mashed to prevent choking)
- nuts, seeds and popcorn, corn chips also present a choking risk
- tough or chewy pieces of meat
- sausages or hot dogs with skin (remove the skin or buy already skinless, then cut into small semi-circular pieces to prevent choking)
- other foods that can break into hard lumps or pieces.
- Hard lollies and sweets are sometimes foods and should not be offered to children on a regular basis.
Daily Menu Sample for Children 0-5 years
Always wash your hands before and after handling food – and wash them again if you touch your hair, need to use a tissue to wipe your nose, after sneezing or going to the toilet, or if you touch other items that may carry bacteria.
Keep all kitchen areas clean. Ensure that food packages are unbroken, and products are within their use-by date. Protect low-risk foods by placing them in sealed containers, once packages are open. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and fish, cooked items (such as meat and vegetables) and fruit. Colour code boards to help you remember to use the right ones. Wash knives after use with uncooked meat and fish, and before use with any foods that are ready to be eaten.
Keep high-risk foods refrigerated before cooking or until they are to be eaten. Reheat food until it is steaming hot. Allow it to cool down to serving temperature, then serve immediately. Place any cooked high-risk foods back in the refrigerator, if not eating them straight away. Do not reheat cooked foods more than once. Discard any food that was served and not eaten or if it has been out of the refrigerator for more than an hour.
Wash dishes between use in hot soapy water and leave them to dry, rather than using a tea towel. Alternatively, use a dishwasher. Use gloves, tongs and spoons to serve food. Never allow a child to eat food that has been dropped on the floor.
Cleaning and preparation
Bottles and teats need to be sterilised, sanitised or disinfected to ensure that they do not carry any infections. This can be done with several different methods, including boiling, with an electric sterilising unit, through chemical sterilisation or with a microwave steriliser. Whichever method is chosen by the families ensure that the instructions are followed.
Ensure that formula is prepared according to the directions on the container. Read the directions carefully to make sure you add the correct number of scoops to the proper amount of pre-boiled, cooled water, and mix it well. Preparing each bottle just before offering it to the child is best, however prepared formula can be kept in the refrigerator for up to, but no more than 24 hours.
Heating Formula and Breast Milk
Always heat formula and breast milk in a water bath, for no longer than 10 minutes, and never in the microwave. This will ensure that the bottle is heated evenly and does not burn the child’s mouth. Shake the bottle and then test the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before feeding- the milk should feel warm, not hot. Throw out any formula that is left in the bottle after feeding (within half an hour).
Mealtimes are an important time for social interaction with other children and adults as well as opportunities to encourage hygiene practices, positive eating behaviours (sitting at a table, using cutlery instead of hands, not spitting out or throwing food) and learn about nutrition and food variety.
To maintain health and hygiene practices, wash the children’s and your hands before and after eating food. Regular hand washing is by far the best way to keep children and adults from getting sick and prevent the spread of germs.
The Nannies Role
- be a positive role model during mealtimes ensuring that the environment is calm and positive.
- encourage children to help prepare for mealtimes by packing away play materials and setting the table with placemats, tablecloths and cutlery.
- sit with children during meals and snacks.
- eat the same food as the children if practicable.
- encourage children to taste all the foods offered at a meal or snack.
- never give or deny food as a reward or punishment.
- avoid distractions like TV or devices during mealtimes. This will assist the child with focusing on his/her appetite.
Work in partnership with families to support and encourage them to develop healthy eating practices at home. Discuss eating, nutrition and children’s daily requirements with parents, as this provides a valuable opportunity to learn about the children’s mealtime routines and eating habits.