A daycare menu is important because children need food to grow, play, and stay healthy, but what are the right foods – the best foods - you can offer the children in your care? How much should you offer? How often should you offer food? And, what about when children won't eat what you offer?
Designing a nutritious daycare menu that meets the health needs of all the children in your care can be a challenge. With a little bit of knowledge about the right foods, snacks, and portion sizes, however, you can be armed with the information you need to give the children in your care nutritious food choices that can help them develop healthy eating patterns from the start. Extension online courses can help. Extension offers credible, research-based course material from professionals in the fields of child care, family, health, and nutrition that can guide you in the design of a daycare menu and healthy eating patterns for young children. With such courses as:
you can develop the knowledge you need to feed the children in your care well. (Note: These courses also meet requirements for educational hours toward Texas Child Care Licensing and Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials.)
Daycare providers should offer a variety of food throughout the day from each of the five USDA Food Guide Pyramid (MYPyramid) food groups when designing a daycare menu, which include:
MyPyramid is a food guidance system that describes balanced eating plans for the general population, as well as specific audiences, including preschoolers aged 2 to 5 years old. You can also use the USDA site to locate a specific daycare menu or recipe. Not only are a variety of foods from each food group important, but so is the portion size. Parents and care givers, alike, are often unsure about how much food to serve. In general,
Extension online courses can help you see what these portion sizes look like and give you ideas about which foods to choose for your daycare menu, including how to deal with sweets and sweetened beverages among the children in your care. Extension online courses will also help you identify nutritional needs for infants and toddlers, implement appropriate procedures for introducing semi-solid and table foods to infants, encourage positive experiences involving food, and support children in your care who have special dietary needs.