Food and Drink


We understand the importance of a child’s early years for their future health and wellbeing. We will ensure all children attending the setting are offered a wide variety of nutritious foods in suitably sized portions. Healthy food and drink choices will be incorporated into our summer, autumn, winter and spring menu plans. We also take into consideration the dietary requirements of individual children. Food will be prepared in a clean and safe environment, using fresh ingredients. In addition to the mealtime menus, children will be offered healthy snacks and drinks and will be encouraged to choose from the healthy options that will be available for them during snack times. We will always provide your child with an alternative meal if he/she does not eat the menu option.

In order for children to take full advantage of the learning opportunities available to them, our child care practitioners will support children when learning to eat as well as help them to develop positive habits and attitudes towards healthy eating. Children will be encouraged to enter into discussions around the food they eat and supported with sitting to the table. Activities will be developed in order for children to have involvement in cooking activities. Children will also be encouraged to foster good dental health.

Parents will be given the menu sheets and encouraged to make suggestions. A healthy eating policy will be available for all parents and it will be regularly revised in order to take into account any relevant changes in the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for pre-school children.

Children in Full Day Care will be offered a breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and evening meal each day. At least one of the meals will be hot. Children attending half day will be offered a breakfast, snack and lunch or lunch, snack and evening meal depending on whether it is morning or afternoon sessions. Children attending wrap around sessions will be offered breakfast, an afternoon snack and an evening meal.

We will ensure all food, snacks and drinks are planned and prepared in line with the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Pre School Children.

Children less than one year old – For children less than one year old, we will support breast feeding mothers by offering them a warm, private and comfortable space if they wish to breastfeed at the start or end of each day. We would welcome mothers who may wish to attend during a lunch break to breastfeed. For mothers who wish to supply expressed breast milk, we will offer safe storage based on the storage guidelines for expressed breast milk.

Parents using formula milk will be encouraged to bring the formula already prepared (Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Pre School Services: p7). If the formula is being prepared at the nursery then staff will do this in a clean, safe area specifically set aside for this purpose and they will follow the instructions outlined on the formula. Parents will supply clearly labelled bottles for their children and these bottles will only be used for the child they belong to.

The feeding of babies will take place in a warm environment and where possible by the same staff member. Throughout the feeding process, the emotional needs of the child will be met through the staff member holding the baby and providing attention. Staff will ensure the bottles are clearly labelled with the Childs name and the date. Storage of the milk will be in line with the Food and Nutrition Guidelines and any unfinished bottles will be discarded after one hour and the parents informed. Staff will record the intake of milk for each child.

Staff will follow the individual Childs patterns of feeding and sleeping as opposed to change their patterns. By ensuring effective communication with parents and by picking up the Childs signals for feeding/sleeping we will ensure staff adhere to the needs of each individual baby. At appropriate stages, led by parents, babies will be introduced to a more varied diet so as to introduce them to solid foods. Communication and discussion with parents will remain constant and information will be provided to parents so they are kept fully informed of their Childs food intake. Staff will also keep the parents informed of their Childs development of motor skills, dexterity, exploratory behaviour and social development at meal times.

Food will be prepared using the guidelines on suitable foods, consistency, and suitable drinks for infants. Consistency will be age appropriate or as advised by parents. Staff will ensure the babies have a ‘home from home’ experience therefore if parents chose an alternative programme for feeding i.e. baby led weaning, the same model will be followed in nursery.

Children aged 1 – 5 years – Parents will be informed of and given a copy of ‘The Food Pyramid’ which sets out the five food shelves. We will plan and prepare meals using ingredients from the bottom four shelves that provide energy, vitamins and minerals, calcium and protein. Categories of snacks will include Juicy Snacks, Thirsty Snacks, Smooth Snacks, Crunchy Snacks and Chewy Snacks. Children will be offer a choice of snacks from these categories. Drinks will also be made available for children during meal and snack times each day as well as throughout the day.

Accommodating the food needs of children – It will be the responsibility of parents/care providers to inform the nursery manager and staff of any special dietary requirements their child has and/or of any allergies. This will enable the manager to ensure arrangements are made to accommodate the individual child/children. Parents will be asked to provide a copy of the diet sheet prepared by a dietician/specialist where applicable and provide as much information as possible. Information from parents will be recorded and taken into account during the preparation of meals. The nursery will work closely with parents at all times to ensure their childs diet and cultural customs are catered for. Catering staff will be made aware of special dietary requirements and of any allergies.

A menu planning checklist will assist in providing a healthy, varied diet, enable different foods to be introduced to children and ensure the food options for main meals and snacks are healthy.

Learning to eat – we recognise that pre-school years are a good time to help children form positive attitudes towards food and physical activity. It is a time when they can develop good eating habits and with ongoing encouragement promoting positive body image, children can flourish.

By introducing new tastes and textures the children will learn about the food types. We understand children will tip food out of their bowl, smear it over their high chair and play with it in general. This is part of the Childs learning experience. Children will be encouraged to feed themselves and drink by themselves under the supervision of staff.

Child size tables and chairs, crockery and cutlery will also be used to make it easier for children to feed themselves and learn to eat independently and age appropriate utensils will be utilised. Mealtimes will be used as an opportunity for children to talk about food and where it comes from thus helping to improve speaking and listening skills. It will help teach children good table manners. Staff will lead by example, promote a positive attitude towards healthy food and ensure all children have adequate time to eat their meals and snacks.

Parents will be provided with information of what their child ate during their time at nursery and the types of drinks they had. Mealtimes and snack times will be at set times during the day so the children know when to expect food.

Fostering good dental health – The nursery will always provide healthy options at meal and snack times in order to reduce the frequency and amount of contact with sugary foods. Tooth friendly drinks such as milk and water will be encouraged in between meals. Staff will encourage children to see visits to the dentist as a positive experience through story-telling and games. The nursery manager will liaise with dentists to organise trips for the children, work alongside professional and look to adopt government initiatives where possible for example, the ‘Designed to Smile’ programme. Subject related activities will also be introduced to the children.

Food Hygiene – All food and snack will be stored, prepared and presented in a safe and clean environment. Staff will be trained in food hygiene and complete a recognised course to ensure they have a full working knowledge and understanding of the ‘Food Safety Standards’. Food will be purchased from a reputable source to ensure transportation of the produce meets the food safety standards. Stock control will be in place to ensure food is eaten, cooked or throw out by the best before date. Staff will complete a Food Safety Course on an ongoing basis to ensure they remain up to date with regulations and fully understand the process of food storage, kitchen hygiene, food preparation and safety.

Healthy Eating Policy – With ideas about healthy eating varying between childcare workers and providers as well as individual parents, the nursery has developed a written healthy eating policy based on a written list of things we have agreed on and intend to do in order to ensure we comply with the healthy eating requirements outlined in the Childcare Act. Parents will be encouraged to have a say in the ongoing development and revision of the policy. Staff will be trained to ensure they fully understand the policy and how it is to be implemented within the nursery setting. The policy will be made available to all parents and staff and will be on display in the front reception area so that staff, parents and other relevant stakeholders can see the policy and menu options.

Learning through food – Children will have opportunities to learn through food. Staff will help children to learn about where food comes from, how it grows, health benefits of food and different food cultures. This learning is important as it helps lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy food choices. The nursery staff will incorporate food related activities into the opportunities children have to play for example, through pretend play in the kitchen/café, in the garden growing vegetables, mustard seeds, and edible flowers. In the kitchen making seed balls for birds or shapes out of food for painting. Staff will also participate in National Healthy Eating Campaigns, work alongside Community Nutrition and Diabetic Services and organise information sessions at open day events.

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