In today’s busy world, fast food and ready meals are a quick, easy and convenient choice. It’s common knowledge, however, that home-cooked food using fresh, high quality ingredients is always a better choice for adults and children alike. Freshly prepared food avoids many of the nastier things like additives, colourings, too much sugar, salt and processed ingredients. However it’s tricky, as we don’t always have time to start meals from scratch when we’re juggling the many demands of today’s frenetic world. Eating healthily is important, though, and even more so for very young children. We’ll explore this in today’s article …
Healthy, Balanced Meals for Children
Eating more healthily requires a balance of factors. These include:
- ideally using fresh, healthy, quality ingredients whenever possible;
- meals that, over the course of each day, represent a balanced diet for children;
- care to ensure children are eating the right portion sizes.
Getting the balance of these right benefits growing children enormously. These include obvious benefits, like maintaining a healthy weight, along with some surprising benefits like the avoidance of certain diseases later in life. We’ll take a closer look …
The Benefits of Healthy Eating for Children
Eating a healthy, balanced diet from an early age:
- helps children to get into the habit of healthy eating as they grow older;
- gives children the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that, critically, their growing bodies need for full and optimum development;
- helps children maintain energy levels needed for their activities each day;
- helps to maintain cognitive function, mood and good mental health;
- helps children avoid obesity and the health risks associated with it;
- helps children to have a better self-image and thereby to be more confident with better self-esteem and mental wellbeing;
- means that children are less likely to be bullied for being overweight;
- helps children to avoid diseases later on including heart and blood pressure issues, diabetes and even …
- Step 1: Download our Nursery Checklist here (Excel format, or PDF also available*).
- Step 2: Fill in the answers to the questions.
- Step 3: Then use the completed checklist to compare the nurseries in an easy, at-a-glance format.
The nursery checklist is a 1-page, A4 document. It prompts you to find the answers to all the right questions. You fill in the relevant section for each nursery that you’re comparing and, optionally, you can score each answer for its quality. At the bottom of the checklist, the total will be automatically computed assuming you are using the Excel version*. The overall winner should be pretty clear to see, top/right of any of the ‘sheets’ (switch using the tabs at the bottom). There you’ll see all the totals compared, one directly above the other. Simple!
Most, if not all, of the information should be readily available from the nursery websites. Failing that, call the nurseries to find answers you don’t know. We’ve included Treetops Nursery as an example, using real information, so you can easily
A good night’s sleep is essential for all of us. Without it, we struggle in the following days and are sure to perform less than optimally.
The Adverse Effects of Too Little Sleep
The adverse effects of a poor night’s sleep are even more pronounced for under-fives and babies. As well as simply being tired, they can become emotional, grumpy, uncooperative and stressed. They might even be inclined to throw tantrums and to become a real danger to themselves. The distress they are feeling through lack of sleep is clear to see, even if they themselves don’t understand why they are feeling the way they do.
What’s also obvious is that they won’t be able to learn as effectively as they might otherwise have done. Attention spans, cognitive function, memory skills and levels of alertness are all known to suffer after a poor night’s sleep.
If poor sleep becomes a regular occurrence, there are also longer-term health risks that could become real concerns. Blood pressure, diabetes, weight, mental health and the release of natural growth and repair hormones can all suffer if children have regular sleep deficiency. So, sleep is incredibly important.
How Much Sleep do Children Need?
Babies and young children need far more sleep than adults. According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, they require the following: