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Brushing Children's Teeth – A Guide for Parents

As promised in our Guide to Teething last month, this next guide is all about brushing teeth — specifically for for babies, toddlers and young children. Regular brushing of teeth is an essential habit for young children to get into. Doing so will protect their teeth and oral health as they grow older.

Studies suggest that brushing teeth twice a day, for at least 2 minutes, may even reduce the risk of poor heart health.

When Should You Start Brushing Children’s Teeth?

Babies' teeth should be brushed as soon as they first appear through the gumsParents, guardians or carers should start brushing children’s teeth the moment teeth first appear, even when it’s only one or two teeth initially showing through. This is typically around the age of six to ten months when, for most babies, the lower incisors are first to appear. It varies enormously, though, with some babies even being born with one or more teeth. For teething babies, of course, you need to be more gentle with brushing than you would be for an older child, because their gums will probably be sore. Hence, there are some guidelines to follow in that regard. That’s exactly where this article comes in as we explain the accepted best practice for brushing infant teeth.

How Much Toothpaste Should Babies, Toddlers & Children Use?

Check toothpaste labels carefully to ensure you are using the right toothpaste.

Toothpaste containing at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride or ‘family toothpaste’ containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm is suitable for babies and children up to 6 years of age.

  • For babies and children up to 3 years old, use just a smear.
  • For children between 3 and 6 years old, use a pea-sized amount on the brush.

Children 7 years old or more should also use a pea-sized amount, using toothpaste containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm of fluoride.

What’s the Best Way to Brush a Baby’s Teeth?

The NHS suggests that parents sit the baby on their lap, facing away from them towards a mirror (this is so that the child can learn from what the parent is showing them). The baby’s head can rest against you so that it’s kept stable during brushing.

Using the recommended toothpaste suggested in the section above, parents can apply just a smear of toothpaste to either a small tooth brush, finger brush or piece of clean gauze wrapped around a finger (whichever suits best). Then, this can be applied to the baby’s teeth using small, gentle, circular motions to both teeth and surrounding gums.

The baby will soon learn from watching this and will, in time, begin to try it themselves. The parent can help by guiding the child’s hand when this occurs.

As only a smear of toothpaste has been used, the baby does not need to spit it out and indeed, not rinsing will protect the teeth even further.

What About Teeth Brushing for Children Over 3?

Ensure that children find brushing teeth a fun activityThe same general approach can be used for children aged 3 or over, except toddlers may stand, so long as their head can still rest against you so that it’s kept stable and relatively still while brushing takes place. As mentioned in the preceding section, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste can be used for this age group.

The child can spit out superfluous foam after brushing, but does not need to rinse. As before, this is because retaining a covering of fluoride will continue to protect the teeth for longer.

From the age of about 7, children will generally be capable of brushing their teeth themselves, unaided.

Tips to Protect Children’s Teeth from Decay

There are many tips around keeping children's teeth safe from decayAs well as regular brushing of teeth and dentist check-ups, there are many additional measures that can protect children’s teeth. These really all come down to one thing; avoiding added sugar. So …

  • Check ingredients of what your baby or child is eating and drinking. Avoid anything that has added sugars, including baby foods.
  • There are many kinds of sugar so check labels carefully. Sugar can come in many forms including raw, cane or brown sugar, glucose, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, fructose, molasses, hydrolysed starch, inverted sugar syrup and Muscovado sugar, to name just a few.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Young children should stick mainly to water or milk. While milk does contain an element of natural sugar, it’s less likely to cause harm to teeth than man-made or added sugars.
  • If you give little ones fruit juice, dilute it. 10 part of water to 1 part of pure fruit juice is a good ratio.
  • Limit fruit juice intake to 150ml per day maximum if you do not dilute it, making up the rest of their daily drink intake with milk and/or water.
  • Children’s teeth should be brushed ideally immediately after eating or drinking anything sugary. This is to remove sugar and avoid build-up of plaque. In the case of fruit juice, brushing after drinking will remove acid found in the juice, as this can otherwise also harm teeth.
  • Avoid giving children sweets and biscuits except, perhaps, for very occasional special treats. Otherwise they’ll get a ‘sweet tooth’ and it could become a habit, potentially harming their teeth and health.
  • Consider sugar-free medicines if you do need to give your child medicine at any point.
  • Free-flowing, open drinking vessels such as beakers are less likely to ‘bathe’ teeth in sugary drink compared to bottles or valved bottles, thereby reducing the possibility of tooth decay. Learn more about those in the ‘Health & Safety First’ section below.

When Should Children Start Going to the Dentist?

Children should regularly visit the dentist for check-ups, so it’s a good idea to start them early, so that it becomes a normal routine. Children need to appreciate that teeth brushing is important to teeth, oral hygiene and potentially to overall health. Visiting the dentist is recommended in case there is a problem of some kind and also to highlight whether teeth are being brushed optimally at home. If not, a good dentist will be able to point children and parents in the right direction.

It’s important for a dentist visit to be a pleasant, stress-free experience, so be sure to hide any anxiety you may have about dentists as a parent, otherwise this anxiety can be passed onto the child going forwards.

Health & Safety First!

Getting children used to brushing teeth twice a day in their early years sets up a good habit as they grow upThe more obvious additional health and safety concerns include the following:

  • For their own safety, babies and little ones need to be supervised at all times when brushing teeth.
  • In the interests of safety, children must never be allowed to play with toothbrushes or toothpaste nor to run around with them (particularly in their mouths!).
  • Do not allow babies or children to eat of swallow toothpaste, nor to lick the tube.
  • Once babies start to phase out bottled milk (usually weaning off them from the age of around 6 months), bottles with ‘no-spill’ valves and spouted drinking cups and ‘sippy cups’ should be avoided, according to many dentists, orthodontists, speech therapists and healthcare professionals. This is to avoid a whole raft of potential problems including crooked teeth, tooth decay and potential speech issues.

“As oral health professionals at GOSH, we encourage children to move to an open cup as soon as possible to reduce the risk of dental [cavities] which are often connected to bottles or ‘sippy’ cups.” (Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children).

Clean Teeth for Healthy Kids

Keeping children’s teeth clean and free of plaque will help to keep teeth, gums and oral health in good shape. Starting early will also encourage kids to get into a good teeth cleaning habit from a young age and be more likely to carry that on into adulthood. Children with good teeth, healthy gums and fresher breath will generally feel more good about themselves, boosting self-confidence and self-image. Amazingly, recent studies even suggest that brushing teeth twice a day, for at least 2 minutes, may even reduce the risk of poor heart health.1

Our Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, WillesdenThis guide was brought to you by the childcare team at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green and Harlesden. If you’re looking for nurseries in those areas, around London NW10, we’d love to show you and your little one around so that you can see the setting in action for yourselves. To learn more about a possible place for your child, contact us using your preferred method below, while spaces are available:

Kids Say The Cutest Things: 12 adorable quotes by children & toddlers

Every parent, guardian or childcare professional knows that children can come out with the most surprising comments, when least expected. Sometimes they’re hilarious, other times they’re astoundingly astute for such a young age, and other times what they say is simply adorable. Here are a dozen of our favourite preschooler quotes that fit straight into the cute category. Take a look …

Please feel free to bookmark this page, share it on social media or link out to the individual quotes — this incredible cuteness can’t be kept secret!

 

Looking for Nursery Places for a Baby or Child in Willesden, NW10?

If you are looking for a nursery place for your baby, toddler or child in Willesden, London NW10, we can help. Treetops Nursery is one of the best nurseries in the Willesden, Willesden Green, Kensal Green and Harlesden areas of London NW10. We’d be delighted to discuss a place for your child and to tell you all about the nursery/pre-school. If you’d like to learn more and perhaps come and see the setting in action, contact us using one of the buttons below while spaces are still available:

Duckling Hatching Experience at Treetops Nursery
Duckling hatching guidelinesYou know both Spring and Easter have arrived when eggs and fluffy, new-born ducklings can be seen at Treetops Nursery. To explain, the nursery took delivery of a duckling ‘hatching kit’ in late March and children at this Willesden nursery have had an absolutely magical time ever since. Over the course of ten days, the children and staff watched as the little duck eggs were incubated, using specialist equipment, right in the heart of the nursery. After just a few hours, fluffy yellow ducklings had hatched, much to the delight of everyone who saw them. More details follow below …

Background — Incredible Eggs

Let’s start at the beginning. A group of 7 small, family-run farms runs a programme called Incredible Eggs. It provides education in the form of chick-hatching experiences for settings like childcare nurseries, schools and care homes across the UK. As part of this, it helps with wildlife conservation too, breeding several rare and pure poultry breeds to safeguard biodiversity and avoid losing some of the breeds forever.A duckling being cared for by a child at Treetops Nursery This also includes breeding and releasing the endangered ‘Grey Partridge’ back into the wild as part of the overall programme. Incredible Eggs also supports several charities and social enterprises. Animal welfare is a top priority and the programme aims to give every bird “a good life, and a life worth living.

The Hatching Experience at Treetops Nursery

The team from Incredible Eggs arrived at the nursery, bringing with them all the equipment we would need, along with the precious duck eggs, of course. They professionally set up the equipment for us and explained to nursery staff everything we needed to know for the days ahead. Printed hatching guides, information sheets, posters and instructions were all supplied, so staff were fully briefed as to what to expect and what they would need to do to ensure the welfare, safety and health of the new arrivals once they came.

One of the delightful ducklingsThe Little Miracles Arrived

The eggs had already been partly incubated while at the farm, so in no time at all, tiny ‘cheeping’ noises could be heard from the eggs as they began pecking away at the egg shells, from the inside. It was absolutely magical for the nursery children and staff to witness the little ducklings gradually break free and enter the world for the first time.

A Magical Experience for Children & Staff

Children enjoying the magical experience with the ducklings

Once hatched, the ducklings were gently moved into a ‘brooding’ unit, a lovely warm area where they could dry out, gather their strength and rest for a couple of days. They settled in comfortably and were cared for, fed and watered by knowledgeable staff — all under the watchful eye of the delighted children. Once they were strong enough and adorning their beautifully soft, fluffy yellow plumage, the nursery children were allowed to gently handle the ducklings under close, adult supervision, of course. The children were told to stay calm and quiet and to avoid sudden movements, so as not to scare the ducklings. It was a dream come true for many children and their delight was clear to see. They loved seeing the ducklings learning to eat and drink in their lovely warm brooding unit. It was also fun to see them get excited when staff or children gently scratched around at their food, making them run over to peck it.

Ducklings can swim just a couple of days after hatchingOne of the joys of having ducklings this time (the nursery had hen chicks a couple of years ago) was that ducklings absolutely love swimming! Containers of water or a paddling pool can be set up and ducklings are able to take to the water within just a couple of days of hatching. It’s great fun to watch them learn to dive and to dart around — and it’s super cute!

An Educational Experience

As well as getting to know the beautiful little creatures, the hatching experience was an educational one, touching on several areas of the EYFS curriculum. This includes, primarily, the key area of Understanding the World including learning about nature, living creatures, life and the world around the children. Learning about how animals come into the world and about how they all have their own individual needs and feelings is incredibly important.The ducklings are as cute as can be! So the hatching experience also teaches children respect for nature and may even grow a long-term love of nature and the natural world within them.

“If children grow up not knowing about nature and appreciating it, they will not understand it, and if they don’t understand it, they won’t protect it, and if they don’t protect it, who will?” (Sir David Attenborough)

Returning Ducklings to the Farm

It will be sad to say goodbye to the adorable ducklingsOn April 1st, the ducklings will leave Treetops Nursery and go to live back at the farm. It will be very sad to see them go, but it was always a part of the plan and, in any case, the farm is set up to care for them very well as they grow into adulthood. Looking after any creature is a huge responsibility, so it’s good to know that the ducklings will be in just the right environment and will be cared for by professionals. The nursery looks forward, however, to next year, when we hope to do it all over again and watch with the children as more magical lives begin.

A Place for your Baby or Child at our Nursery in Willesden

Are you interested in nursery places for babies and children in Willesden, or near Willesden Green, Kensal Green or Harlesden? If so, Treetops Nursery may be able to help. We’re a high quality childcare setting in Willesden, London NW10 and would be happy to discuss a possible place for your child here, while a few spaces remain available. If this is of potential interest, please contact us using one of the buttons below:

Top Marks for Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery - ChecklistBack in December, we published what turned out to be a very popular checklist for choosing a nursery. Our interactive file was a downloaded multiple times and continues to be shared amongst those looking for a good nursery for their children, right across the UK.

How Does Treetops Nursery Measure Up?

Here we’ll explore how Treetops Nursery measures up when using the Nursery Checklist. As you’ll see, Treetops performs extremely well. Take a look …

Convenient

Convenient location in Willesden near Willesden Green, Harlesden & Kensal GreenThe nursery would be extremely hard to beat if you’re looking for high quality childcare from a nursery or pre-school in the Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green areas in north west London and the NW10 postal zone.

The setting is open 51 weeks of the year from Monday to Friday, only closing for a week over Christmas/New Year and during public or bank holidays. It’s open early from 8am right through to 6pm.

The nursery caters for babies from 6 months of age to children up to five years old, so is a perfect setting where children can prepare for the move to school at age five, while allowing parents and carers to continue with their careers in the interim.

Low Fees & Support for Government Funding Schemes

Fees at Treetops Nursery are extremely competitive, with half days costing no more than £35 per session and full days just £62. For those attending all week Monday to Friday, this is discounted to £275 for the week, or afternoons only would be £145 per week. Siblings receive a further 10% discount. All food, drinks and healthy snacks are included in the pricing.

Most childcare vouchers are accepted and the nursery supports 15 and 30 Government-funded hours for eligible children aged 2 to 4.

So, full marks for affordability!

Excellent Facilities & Equipment

Wonderful facilities, equipment & toys indoors & outsideEquipment and facilities at the nursery are excellent, both indoors and outside. An excellent overview of our outdoor spaces and play areas is available here and you can learn more about our excellent equipment and facilities, including for sensory play, here. As you’ll see via that link, there are also separate rooms and areas for each particular age group plus a sensory room and movement play room. Treetops Nursery is also lucky in having several natural outdoor spaces close by, so that children can enjoy the outdoors and learn from nature.

You Can Visit the Nursery

We welcome parents and carers who are considering Treetops Nursery for their child. Come and see the setting for yourself and bring your baby or child with you — you’ll soon see how easily they could fit in. Click the button below to arrange a visit:

You’ll see that the nursery is warm and welcoming – a true home-from-home for your baby or child. Children and staff are happy at the setting and the little ones settle in very quickly when they first join. Staff will be happy to show you around, tell you everything about the nursery and to answer any questions that you might have. We’re here to help!

Don’t Take Our Word For It! Here’s What Others are Saying ….

Treetops Nursery scores 100% in independent online reviews, for example, scoring the full 5 Stars on Facebook’s reviews section. It doesn’t get any better than that! Just a few of the lovely comments people have written include:

“Really nice nursery with experienced staff and nurturing environment, great space too”

We’re extremely well thought-of as a nursery so, if you’re local to us, ask around and we’re convinced our previous parents will give glowing feedback about how well we looked after their little ones.

“My child has been with treetops since 9 months old and has worked her way up through all of their rooms … [she] is extremely happy at treetops, she has made lovely friends over her years. She is very fond of all of the staff … always enjoys her meals and tells me all about her activities at the end of the day. I would highly recommend treetops to any parent looking for a nursery place.”

A good Ofsted Report for Treetops Nursery, WillesdenA Good Ofsted Report

Our most recent Ofsted Report was also full of wonderful comments from the inspector who visited last time around. Take a look at our in-depth article showing all the positive feedback contained in our Ofsted report and you’ll soon see why we passed every benchmark with flying colours. We were officially rated as ‘a good nursery’ in every single category!

Excellent Safety & Security for Your Child

Treetops Nursery has excellent security protocols in place to protect children under its care. These include CCTV monitoring throughout the nursery, including indoors, in all the outdoor spaces and also in the reception/entrance area. Safety and security are primary concerns of all staff and stringent protocols are in place to ensure children are safe at all times, including at drop-off and pick-up times. These protocols ensure that only the right people have access to the children.

There are also robust health and safety protocols and measures in place to protect the children’s wellbeing. Staff are trained in First Aid, Safeguarding and Health & Safety as appropriate and the nursery also has suitable anti-COVID precautions in place to protect the wellbeing of staff, children and their parents or carers during the pandemic.

Excellent Additional Features

A modern, spacious nurseryChildren’s individual needs, including for those with special needs, are well catered-for at Treetops Nursery, Willesden. In fact, a learning and development programme is tailored to the needs, strengths, weaknesses and interests of each individual child. A ‘Key Person’ is also assigned to each child and this staff member continually monitors their progress, making changes to the tailored programme as appropriate as time goes by. Parents and carers are kept fully informed of children’s progress, including via a journal that is kept for each child. Parents are also free to add notes to the progress journal so a more complete picture is maintained for every child.

The nursery also has a very useful and informative phone app for parents and carers. It allows them to track their child’s learning and development, activities and more.

Within the fees, Treetops Nursery supplies healthy, balanced meals using fresh, high quality ingredients. Special diets are also catered for, including vegan, vegetarian, etc. We also have a 5 Star food hygiene rating – once again top marks!

The setting utilises the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework for all that it delivers. This high quality framework covers everything from the nursery curriculum to safeguarding, learning and development programmes, health & safety, suitability of staff and the ‘Key Person’ approach for each individual child. High staff-to-child ratios are all a part of this – and much more. It’s an excellent framework around which the entire nursery operates.

A Nursery Place for Your Baby or Child, in Willesden

If you like what you see in this round-up of what Treetops Nursery has to offer, perhaps consider Treetops as a nursery/pre-school for your baby, toddler or child. Our outstanding nursery is in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green in London NW10. Do, please, get in touch while a few places are still available. We’ll be happy to tell you more, answer any questions and show you/your child around. Please choose an option:

A Good Ofsted Report for Treetops Nursery

One of the first things people should look at before settling on a nursery for their children is the latest Ofsted Report for the setting. After all, it’s wise to check the professional and independent feedback that such reports contain. On this note, parents and carers considering Treetops Nursery for their baby or child will be pleased to know that we passed with flying colours in its most recent Ofsted Report. Although it’s been a while since that report, we thought we’d share the outcome so that parents can see for themselves just how good a nursery Treetops is. In fact, we were rated as a good nursery in every single category and we’ll cover that in more detail below.

Treetops Nursery passed with flying colours

First, though, we’ll explain a little about Ofsted and what they checked for during the most recent inspection.

Ofsted

Ofsted is the UK’s official “Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills”. As such, they inspect services providing education and skills and regulate services that care for children and young people. This includes childcare settings, nurseries and pre-schools throughout the UK. Ofsted inspections and the resulting reports are part of this governance.

Ofsted Report for Treetops Nursery, WillesdenWhat they checked

  • The Ofsted Inspector observed the quality of the teaching during various activities, both inside and outdoors. They then appraised the impact of this on the children’s learning.
  • During the inspection, the Inspector talked with both staff and children, at appropriate moments throughout her visit, to further her insight.
  • Joint observations were also undertaken by the Ofsted Inspector, in tandem with the nursery manager and room leaders.
  • Meetings were also held with the nursery manager and area manager.
  • Documentation was checked by the Inspector. This included ensuring that nursery staff were checked in terms of suitability, training and qualifications for the jobs they were undertaking. These checks would also, of course, ensure that all staff had been checked and deemed suitable for working with children.
  • The Inspector also spoke with parents during her visit as well as reading through written feedback supplied by them. All such comments and feedback were taken into consideration when putting together the final Ofsted Report.

The Ofsted Inspector’s Conclusion

In her final Ofsted Report, the Inspector said that Treetops delivered all of the following:

  • good standards and quality of early years provision;
  • good, effective leadership and management;
  • good quality of teaching, learning and assessment;
  • good personal development, behaviour and welfare;
  • good outcomes for children.

Glowing feedback indeed! The Ofsted Report goes on to look at each one in more detail and we take a look at the lovely feedback below:

“Effectiveness of the leadership and management is good”

As you can see by the Report’s findings, our new management at the time of the last Inspection had already had a good, positive impact on the nursery and the quality of the services delivered. Here’s what Ofsted reported:

“ Staff, parents and children’s voices form an integral part of the nursery’s improvement plans, which include the support from the local authority. Qualified staff show a good capacity to continuously improve the services for children. Parents and staff praise the positive impact on children, following the immediate changes made by the new management. All children, including those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, are safe and make rapid progress.”

It’s good to see Ofsted recognising the rapid progress made by children with special educational needs and/or disabilities at the setting.

On safety and safeguarding of children under our care, the report says:

“The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Staff take part in ongoing safeguarding training and confidently promote the child protection policy. They know the possible signs of abuse and the procedures to follow for the referrals of concerns.”

“Quality of teaching, learning and assessment is good”

The high quality of staff, teaching activities (both indoors and outside), learning resources and the overall educational programme were all applauded in the Ofsted Report:

“Qualified staff confidently promote the areas of learning across the nursery and children access resources to start their own play. Children also enjoy a good balance of adult-led activities, which effectively promotes their learning needs and interests. Younger children love singing and confidently request their favourite songs, using simple language, props and the song cards created by staff. Staff plan well-targeted educational programmes for children with plenty of indoor and outdoor learning opportunities. Older children find natural resources in the ‘secret garden’. They are challenged by staff to describe and research the resources in books.”

Their final conclusion in this part of the report was that “Teaching is good and children progress well”, which is a great result.

“Personal development, behaviour and welfare are good”

The Ofsted Report also praised the nursery staff in regard to the way they handle children’s personal needs, also encouraging good manners and behaviours:

“Staff obtain detailed information from parents about children’s personal requirements and maintain close partnerships with them to promote their ongoing needs … They engage parents to support their emotional needs.” Also they said children themselves “are independent and learn to manage their [own] personal needs.”

The Inspector also recognised that children at the setting are accepting of others and well-behaved. The Ofsted Report states: “Staff are good role models and teach children to be polite and accepting of others” … also saying … “Children are praised and behave well … Children learn about each other and explore the varied cultures across their community.”

In regard to healthy eating and healthy lifestyles, the report said: “Staff effectively promote children’s health. Meals are nutritious and children enjoy plenty of outdoor play and exercise every day.” It’s great to see our work in this regard recognised officially.

“Outcomes for children are good”

A good outcome for every baby or child is, perhaps, the most important goal any nursery or childcare setting can achieve. So, it’s great to see that the good outcomes for children under our care have been officially recognised by Ofsted. The Report says:

“Children learn through play. They are enthusiastic and motivated to learn, fully enjoying the exciting activities available to them. For example, younger children enjoy playing with plastic balls. They learn to name colours, count and roll the balls to their peers while saying their names. Older children collect objects of different sizes from the garden and try to balance them on scales. They are confident communicators and use sophisticated mathematical language to describe what they are doing. They are effectively challenged to develop their skills across all areas of learning. Children make good progress, given their starting points, and gain the necessary skills to successfully start school.”

Gaining the necessary skills to successfully start school is also a key goal for any good nursery. It’s therefore great to see Ofsted recognising how well Treetops Nursery prepares children so they are ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave us.

The Next Ofsted Report

Generally speaking, Ofsted inspections and reports tend to happen every four years or so. This means that Treetops is due a new one in the near future, although it may be held up a little due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place at time of writing. Gov.uk’s Ofsted page reports that, for now, inspections will be carried out remotely until after the February half term although, of course, that could change. We’ll keep you posted with an update, though, the moment any new Ofsted Report becomes available. With the nursery’s goal of continual improvement, we are aiming to do even better next time. So, watch this space!

A Nursery Place for your Child in Willesden, NW10

If you are searching for high quality nurseries in Willesden or a good nursery near Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green, please do consider Treetops Nursery. As you can see from the most recent Ofsted Report, we offer very high quality childcare for babies and young children. If you’d like to explore the possibility of your baby or child attending Treetops Nursery, please get in touch via one of the following options. We’ll be happy to help further.

A Guide to Healthy Eating for Preschoolers

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 …

Fresh vegetables & herbsHealthy, 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 …

Healthy eating has many benefits for toddlers and preschoolersThe 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 perhaps even cancer. That’s an incredible, often overlooked benefit!

What should young children be eating?What Should Children be Eating & Drinking?

Pre-school aged children should have six to eight drinks every day. These should ideally be water and sometimes milk, but not sugar-rich drinks.

They should be eating three meals and two or three healthy snacks. Ensure that the meals comprise a balanced diet i.e. one that gives them all the things they need to be healthy, to grow and to thrive. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that four food groups are always covered in each day’s food intake:

Food GroupPossible SourceNotes
StarchPasta, rice, cereal, potato, breadContains starch (for energy), Vitamin B and calcium. You can introduce wholegrain varieties if added gradually
Fruit & VegAny fruits and vegetables, ideally fresh but frozen, canned or dried is also OKContains Vitamin C & many other nutrients. Serve approx. 5 hand-sized portions per day
DairyCan include milk, yogurt & cheese (full fat versions for toddlers, semi-skimmed from the age of 2)Contains calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B and potassium. Serve approx. 3 portions a day
ProteinEggs, fish (occasionally include oily fish), meat, pulses, nuts, tofu, soyaContains iron, zinc and much more. Serve approx. 2 portions per day

What are the correct portion sizes?Portion Sizes

There are some useful ways to measure portion sizes for young children:

  • For fish, meat, or the vegetarian equivalent, a portion size is about the size of the child’s hand.
  • For fruit and cereal, a portion is about the size of the child’s fist.
  • For vegetables, a portion size is anything from the size of the child’s cupped hand upwards. There is no upper limit so they can eat more if they like it — indeed vegetables are useful to fill a hungry stomach between meals if they’re feeling peckish, or when they ask for seconds.
  • For starchy foods like rice or beans, one portion is about the size of the child’s cupped hand.

More detailed guidelines for portion sizes can be found here (external link).

“Children’s food preferences and eating habits are formed early in life and the time that they spend in early years settings provides an ideal opportunity to shape healthy behaviours.”

Toddler eating fruitHealthy Eating at the Nursery

At Treetops Nursery, we recognise the importance of healthy eating in under-fives, particularly as healthy eating early in children’s lives can often set a pattern for life. In view of this, our in-house chef prepares balanced meals each day for the children. Only fresh, high quality ingredients are used and all special diets are catered for. We serve 3 high quality meals per day along with healthy snacks (fresh fruit/vegetables) mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Fresh drinking water is available at any time and all food and drink is included in our standard nursery fees. Take a look at a typical menu here.

A Nursery Place for your Child in Willesden, NW10

Perhaps you are looking for nurseries in Willesden or a nursery near Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green in London NW10. If so, please do consider a childcare place for your baby or child at Treetops Nursery. Select an option below and we’ll be in touch by return to confirm next steps.

Choosing a Nursery? Download our Handy Checklist!

Nursery Chooser - checklistIf you’re choosing a nursery and haven’t yet made up your mind, our handy Nursery Checklist will really help. It’s designed to help you come to the best possible decision, in a really simple way.

  • 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 get the ball rolling and see what a great nursery Treetops is!

The Nursery Checklist automatically totals the scoresWe’ve split the handy checklist into a handful of appropriate sections. Sections covered include location, convenience, fees, whether the nurseries accept Government-funded childcare schemes or vouchers, what’s included in the price, facilities and equipment, an appraisal of the nursery itself and staff, Ofsted reports, whether each nursery has been recommended, how it scores in online reviews, safety and security and much more. Download the Nursery Checklist here. You can also print it out if needed — it’s designed to fit beautifully on A4, portrait format.

Share it

We hope it’s useful to you! Please feel free to share it — or this article — with other parents and carers or on social media (please retain the example and copyright notice if sharing the files).

Looking for a Nursery in Willesden, Harlesden, Kensal Green or London NW10?

We’d love to hear from you if you are looking for a nursery in the Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green in London’s NW10 area. You’ll see from the Nursery Checklist that Treetops Nursery stacks up very well indeed. If you agree or would like to explore the idea of your child attending our nursery, please select an option below for more information or to get the ball rolling. We can then arrange the next steps.

* An Acrobat PDF alternative is here but, unlike the Microsoft Excel eversion, it doesn’t automatically total the scores.

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

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.

There are many adverse effects of too little sleepThe 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:

Child’s AgeSleep Required (Per 24 Hours Including Naps)
4 months to 1 year of age12-16 hours
1 to 2 years of age11-14 hours
3 to 5 years of age10-13 hours

How to help your child get to sleepYou can see that they require a little less sleep as they grow progressively older.

How to Help Your Child Sleep Well

There are many reasons why babies and children may have trouble sleeping, but there’s quite a bit parents or carers can do to help. Here are some ideas that may help them to fall asleep and then to stay sleeping soundly. This is part of a wider approach to what’s known as Sleep Hygiene, which is the entire approach to bedtime, including the lead up to it.

Sleep Hygiene

One of the most effective ways any parent can help a child receive the right quality and quantity of sleep is to maintain a set routine around bedtime. If set times and rules are in place and always adhered to, then going to sleep at the right time will become virtually automatic. Children will physiologically and mentally adapt and then expect it, becoming tired and ready to sleep around the ‘right’ time. They will also be less inclined to ‘fight’ the rules when they have learned that they’re not negotiable. With some children it may take a while to get to this point, of course — but the bigger ‘sleep hygiene’ approach will ultimately help.

Winding Down Before Bedtime

A winding-down regime can be very useful to get very young children in the right mindset for bedtime. A warm bath or shower can be part of this, as can dimmed lights and perhaps a short bedtime story.

A quiet, comfortable bedroom set-up is neededA Peaceful, Quiet, Bedroom Set-up

The baby or child’s bedroom also needs to have the right set-up. They need to be comfortable and located in a quiet part of the house. Having them just a touch cool will also encourage the child to nestle down in the warmth of their bed. Often a favourite cuddly toy will also give them some comfort and the feeling of security.

A low level of lighting before bedtime is also a great idea. Once it’s time to sleep, total darkness is healthy for sleep although some children may sleep better when they can see the faint glimmer of a nightlight.

Distractions like nearby toys should be avoided, otherwise there’s a risk that the infant might begin to associate bedtime with playtime.

Avoid Stimulants

Handheld screens & TVs are not good for sleepStimulants should be avoided before bedtime. Drinks containing caffeine will keep children awake, so none should be given any time after lunch time, ideally. Caffeine can be found in some fizzy drinks and energy drinks, as well as in tea and coffee. Warm milk, in contrast, will be non-stimulating and actually quite soothing. Be careful not to give drinks too close to bedtime, though, and remember to get the child to visit the loo before going to bed, otherwise they may need to wake up in the night to pay a visit.

Screens also stimulate the brain. So, handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets, as well as TVs, should not be available to the child several hours before bedtime. Their blue light, in particular, will not be conducive to sleeping, due to its stimulating affect on the brain. (You can learn more about the possible health risks associated with giving children access to handheld screens in our enlightening post for our sister nursery over in Birmingham).

It’s useful to avoid vigorous exercise or play too close to bedtime. While exercise during the daytime, particularly in the fresh air, can help young children sleep later on, doing it too close to bedtime may simply awaken their brains and have the opposite effect.

Large meals close to bedtime can also have a detrimental affect on children’s sleep, so ensure that mealtimes are sufficiently early.

Avoid allowing children to get into bad habitsChildren Visiting in the Night

Many parents have experienced their child waking up in the night and coming into their bedroom for comfort. This must not be allowed to turn into a habit. Parents of children attempting to make this a regular occurrence should quietly — and without fuss — lead the child back to their bed and settle them in. Caving in to repeated attempts to end up in the parents’ bedroom (or even bed) will only lead to a bad habit forming. Such a habit would be detrimental to the sleep pattern of all concerned.

Sleeping at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

At Treetops Nursery, we’re well aware of the need for babies and children to get sufficient, high quality, sleep. For this reason, the children have a couple of sleeping sessions each day. From about 9:30am babies usually sleep for between half an hour and an hour. Then, between 12 noon and 3pm, there’s another sleeping session. The older pre-school children are given the choice whether to sleep or not during this time. Parents are encouraged to let us know if there are particular sleep patterns that they’d like us to follow for their baby or child. Every child is different, so we’re totally flexible.

A Nursery Place for Your Child in Willesden, London NW16

If you are looking for an outstanding nursery near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green, we can help. Treetops Nursery is located in Doyle Gardens in Willesden, NW10. For further information …

Treetops Nursery's Wonderful Outside Spaces & Play Areas

In recent years, Treetops Nursery in Willesden has had literally hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on it to vastly improve both the setting and its facilities. Starting as far back as 2007-2008, architects were commissioned to design, build and improve upon the existing childcare facilities that existed prior to that date. The work then included internal remodelling, the addition of extra spaOur sandpit is always very popular with the childrence for babies and young children and generally an improvement all around. A new block was added to house a community area and crèche together with several break-out spaces. An enormous canopy, that has been of huge benefit to the nursery, was also added. With that addition, children can now play outside and keep dry even when it’s raining. Similarly, the bicycle and buggy area and the route from the adjacent King Edward’s Park to the nursery were also each given coverings, so that children and staff could be given some shelter in all weather conditions outside. At the same time, the front entrance was totally redesigned and the reception area enhanced and remodelled. This now represents a wonderful checkpoint where staff can monitor and manage the comings and goings of everyone entering or exiting the building, to keep children safe.

Some of the activities, facilities, toys & equipment

Even in recent months, significant investment has been made to outdoor areas including equipment, toys, finishes, boundaries, resources for the children and lots of interactive activities. Some of the outdoor equipment includes:

  • More of the excellent outdoor facilitiesa bike park with bicycles and buggies,
  • a water activity area,
  • a ‘music wall’ where children can explore sound and percussion,
  • a book reading zone,
  • a plant growing zone,
  • outdoor blackboards where children can write and draw in chalk,
  • sand pits, which are a huge hit with the children,
  • Children have access to natural materials to explore and learn fromball pits, which are always fun for kids,
  • rocking horses/animals,
  • colour and counting activities plus an ‘alphabet fence’,
  • slides and a timber ‘tree house’,
  • natural materials and textures to explore,
  • portable activity easels,
  • messy play activities (always popular with children!),
  • … and much more!

All these outdoor improvements have been an absolute godsend during the pandemic; the outside spaces have been used far more by the staff and children because they keep everyone naturally more socially distanced and the open air is more effective in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. All this is possible due to the wonderful set-up of the nursery, with outdoor areas available to enjoy, in comfort, in virtually all weathers — at any time of year.

Treetops Nursery in Willesden

Are you looking for high quality nurseries near to Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green? We’d love you to consider Treetops Nursery, in Willesden NW10, if so. Please get in touch for further details:

Microgreens: fun, nutritious, food growing for little ones

There are now microgreen farmsThere is one class of edible plant that can be grown all year round and is perfect for kids to grow indoors, for example on a windowsill. Some types of this food will sprout in as little as a week. What’s more, it’s tasty and highly nutritious. Growing it is super-easy and a perfect way to keep kids entertained, educated about nature and eating healthily. It’ll also be a welcome addition to mealtimes for the whole household.

Growing Microgreens

We’re talking about Microgreens (also referred to as micro leaves). These are the early, edible, sprouting leaves of very young herbs, leafy greens and some root vegetables that might usually be thought of in a larger, more mature form. The tender new leaves are cut just days after they first sprout and can be made into wonderful salads, garnishes or meal accompaniments. They also bring some very tasty flavours to mealtimes. The young micro leaves are full of vitamins and minerals, look fantastic on the plate and will grow back time and time again after snipping. The secret is simply to harvest the immature micro leaves and to stop them from growing to full size. Just harvest … re-harvest … and re-harvest.

“Micro leaves are usually eaten fresh and raw, and the fresher the leaves are, the more vitamins and minerals they contain. Each little leaf is a gold mine of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals such as iron, folic acid and potassium.” (Gardeners World)

Various microgreen leaves sproutingHere are just a few examples of plants that make suitable microgreens and can easily be grown by children indoors:

  • Basil — their tasty baby leaves are full of flavour and can be harvested just ten days after seed planting. They’re wonderful on salads, pizzas and can even be made into pesto sauce.
  • Coriander — their tiny, delicate leaves pack a unique and punchy flavour that’s perfect with salads, stir-fries, chopped onions and curries. They can be harvested a couple of weeks after sowing the seeds.
  • Rocket — ready to harvest just a week after first sowing, rocket microgreens are another flavoursome and slightly peppery leaf to add to salads and put onto pizzas. Very tasty!
  • Mustard leaves — these may not be to every child’s taste, but many adults will enjoy the slight heat they’ll bring to salads, stir fries and Eastern dishes. Ready to first harvest in 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Salad with microgreensFennel — just 10 days after first sprouting, leaves from young fennel seedlings will give a pleasant aniseed tang to dishes like pasta salads, risottos, soups and even stuffing.
  • Beetroot leaves — the sprouting microgreen leaves from the beetroot take just ten days to appear after sowing. With their rich green leaves and red stems, they look wonderful in salads and lend their mild, earthy flavour to garnishes for some fish dishes.
  • Radish leaves — in just a week, the young, fiery leaves from the radish seedlings will be ready to snip and add to salads, stir fries and sandwiches. For some, their microgreen leaves are even tastier than the traditional root.
  • Spinach — tender leaves from young spinach plants can be harvested in ten days or so. They’re really good for you too. With their mild flavour, they’re a perfect addition to leafy salads, risottos, pastas and noodles.
  • Broccoli leaves — these will be ready to first harvest in just a week and have quite a different flavour than their fully-grown counterpart. With their slightly spicy taste, they’re also great in salads, risottos and omelettes.
  • Red cabbage microgreens are packed with nutrientsRed Cabbage micro leaves have one of the highest Vitamin C concentrations of any microgreen. They also contain Vitamin K, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium and antioxidants. As with many of the microgreens, many top chefs use them as an attractive and tasty garnish. They can be sprinkled over soups, salads, grilled vegetables, stews and cooked meats. After sowing, they take only days to appear.

How children can grow microgreens at home

Your children will need very little to get started. You’ll need to buy them some packet seeds, which you can get at your local garden nursery or online. If you’re unsure who to order from online, Suttons are probably the best-known supplier and seed packets there seem to start from as little as just a pound or two. You can also find mixed seed packets. (If you’re on a really tight budget, you can alternatively take a look at the excellent post about growing food virtually free of cost, by our sister nursery in Streatham).

Along with the seeds, your child will need some multi-purpose or seed and cuttings compost (peat-free is more eco-friendly) and something to sow the seeds in. If you’re going to grow the microgreens on the windowsill, you could use flower pots, slim seed trays (perhaps left over from plants or herbs you have previously bought), containers, yoghurt pots with drainage holes pierced underneath, egg cartons, or even the cardboard cores from used kitchen rolls, cut down to a suitable size. Any of these will need something to sit in, to catch any draining water, for example a saucer or seed ‘drip tray’.

Lemonbalm micro leaves sprouting in compostYour child will need to fill the chosen containers with compost, not quite to the top. Tap it to level the soil, then pat it down just a little to firm it. Some gardeners also indent the compost where the seeds will go. The seeds then need to be carefully placed or lightly sprinkled into the indented areas. It’s important that your child spaces the seeds out so there is no clumping, otherwise significant problems can occur (the crop might get diseased or even completely fail). The seeds don’t need to be covered but a light dusting of sieved compost will keep them in place while allowing light to get through. The seeds then need to be lightly watered. It’s best for your child to do this part outside, just to avoid potential mess indoors, taking care not to over-water nor to wash the seeds away. A way to water them indoors is to simply stand the vessels in some shallow water for 30 to 60 minutes, so the compost naturally draws up the moisture.

The rest is also very easy. Your child simply needs to place the potted seeds on a light windowsill and ensure that the compost is always kept damp, taking care not to over-water. Also consider a label for each pot for identification purposes, particularly if several different seed types have been planted. Some people cover the seed pots or trays with a single sheet of kitchen towel, newspaper or even cling film to keep the moisture in while the seeds initially germinate. Your child will need to check under the covering every day. The moment little shoots can be seen, the covering will need to be removed, so long as the soil is kept moist thereafter, so it never dries out. Ensure the potted plants get full light and ventilation too. Within a week or two depending on the seeds chosen, the young shoots will grow baby leaves and can then be harvested. Snip them near their bases before mature leaves start to replace the baby leaves. If you want to benefit from them for longer, snip them like this rather than pulling up their roots, so they can sprout and re-sprout time and time again.

Eat & enjoy!

A sandwich with microgreens as a garnishOnce rinsed, the tender young micro leaves can be enjoyed in meals by the whole family. They’ll add often exquisite tastes and textures to meals as well as adding much-needed vitamins and minerals to the family diet. That’s even more important for growing toddlers and preschoolers, of course. And, throughout the growing journey, the children will absolutely love seeing the new shoots grow into young plants. They will have learnt new skills, had great fun getting to know more about nature and have a real sense of achievement. Chances are, too, that they will love the taste of the micro leaves.

Treetops Nursery in Willesden

We hope you and your family enjoyed this article and will have fun growing your very own microgreens. The post was brought to you by Treetops Day Nursery in Willesden, London NW10. We are a childcare nursery and pre-school, suitable for babies from 6 months and children up to 5 years of age. We’re also convenient for parents and carers who are looking for high quality weekday childcare near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Brent, Kensal Green, Brondesbury Park, Kilburn, Mapesbury, Dollis Hill, Church End, Roundwood, College Park and Park Royal. Please do get in touch if you’d like to learn more about a possible nursery place for your child.

For further details, contact Treetops Nursery: