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Overcoming childhood obesity — & why it matters

We previously covered the importance of healthy eating and exercise in children’s early years. Both play clear roles in a healthy lifestyle and in fighting potential weight and fitness problems. In today’s post we’ll take a closer look at obesity in young children, how to recognise it, and why it’s important to try to overcome it.

Obesity occurs when excess body fat accumulates in quantities that can be detrimental to health.

How to Recognise Obesity in Children

Apart from any obvious, physical signs, the easiest way to check whether your child has possible weight issues is to check their Body Mass Index (‘BMI’). While it’s not a perfect system, it’s an easy starting point to get a quick overview. The NHS has a great tool for measuring your child’s BMI, which you can access here. It’s quick, simple and free. Select the ‘Child’ tab at the top, enter their height, weight, date of birth, sex and the date of the measurements and then click the ‘calculate’ button at the bottom. Simple! The results are almost immediate and also include some useful Exercise & active play are key tools for fighting obesity in young childrenguidance and links. Your child will fall into one of 4 possible categories:

  • Your child is underweight;
  • Your child is a healthy weight;
  • Your child is overweight;
  • Your child is very overweight.

You may find that BMI results reference centiles. These are a way of comparing a child’s BMI to those of other children of the same age. They use data from Nationwide surveys, which offer a useful comparator. For example, a boy who is on the 60th centile weighs more than 60 out of 100 other boys of the same age in the survey. The healthy weight category for children falls between the 2nd and 91st centiles — quite a wide range.

If you are at all concerned about your child’s BMI or weight (whether overweight or underweight), consult your GP. They may be able to offer guidance or a healthy lifestyle programme referral. However, not all weight issues stem from incorrect food or exercise levels and can occasionally be the result of an underlying medical condition — another reason to check with your GP.

Why Does Childhood Obesity Matter?

The reason this is important is summed up perfectly by the NHS:

“If your child is above a healthy weight now, they’re more likely to be above a healthy weight as an adult, which can lead to health problems in later life.”

Statistics around childhood obesity, and their ramifications, are startling:

  • The age at which children are becoming obese seems to be getting worse i.e. reducing.
  • By the time they start school, 1 in 5 children in the UK are either overweight or very overweight.
  • Between year 6 and the age of 15, 1 in 3 children are overweight or very overweight — a very concerning statistic.
  • Once children are obese, there’s a much greater chance that they will remain so as they grow older.
  • By the time they reach adulthood, obese people are 7 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Heart disease and depression are also statistically more prevalent in obese people.
  • Premature death is twice as likely if you are obese.

Healthy, balanced eating habits also help to fight obesity at any ageSocio-economic background matters too:

  • Under-fives from deprived backgrounds are 2 times more likely to become obese.
  • 11-year-olds from low-income backgrounds are 3 times more likely to become obese.

And society is suffering due to obesity too:

  • More is spent by the NHS each year tackling the adverse effects of obesity than is spent on the fire service, police and judicial system combined.

All in all, fighting obesity early really matters!

How to Tackle Childhood Obesity

There are two clear ways that parents, guardians, carers and childcare professionals can help to ensure that children avoid weight problems and potential obesity. In essence, both come down to the child maintaining a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Through regular exercise, ideally starting from a young age so that good habits are formed early. Read our Guide to Early Years Exercise & Why it’s Essential here for full details.
  2. Through a healthy, balanced diet; one that contains the right food groups in the right amounts. Again, children should be doing this right from an early age so that eating healthily comes naturally as they grow older. Read our Guide to Healthy Eating for Preschoolers here for further information.

Both are great guides with some excellent background information, tips and more. So, perhaps bookmark the links and feel free to share any of our articles on social media or online. All we ask is that you link back to our original post(s).

A Healthy Start at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenThe childcare professionals at Treetops Nursery do, of course, follow exactly this approach. We supply healthy, balanced, meals and drinks, which are freshly prepared on site each day using only the best ingredients. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers also get ample, rich opportunities for active play and exercise as part of their tailored learning and development programme. All this, together with the excellent early years curriculum at the nursery, gives them the very best start in life and clean, healthy foundations to build upon once they leave us to begin school at age five.

If you are searching for the best nurseries for your baby or child in Willesden or near Willesden Green, Kensal Green or Harlesden you’ll find Treetops Nursery very hard to beat. Facilities and resources are excellent and the setting has a wonderful Ofsted report. If you’re considering a place here for your child, please contact us. We’ll be happy tell you more and to show you around. Please choose from the following:

The Top 25 Benefits of Breastfeeding

When it comes to breastfeeding vs. formula milk, there’s a good reason why the phrase ‘Breast is Best’ holds true. In fact, there are many benefits to breastfeeding including several for both baby and mother. Here are our top twenty-five:

15+ Breastfeeding Benefits for Babies

  1. Breastfeeding benefits babies enormouslyBreast milk is nature’s totally natural food for newborns and little ones, containing nothing artificial or added.
  2. It’s tailored perfectly to the needs of the growing infant, adapting to their needs as they grow.
  3. It passes on antibodies straight to the newborn baby.
  4. It contains everything the baby needs for healthy development, including all the right proteins, vitamins, fats and even hormones.
  5. Breast milk also contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for the baby’s developing brain.
  6. Data suggests that at least 6 months of breastfeeding protects against the possible development of childhood leukaemia.
  7. It’s also likely to protect against the development of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (‘SADS’).
  8. Premature babies are also more protected against the bowel disorder Necrotising Enterocolitis (‘NEC’), which can be potentially serious.
  9. Babies are more protected against asthma if they have been breastfedBabies are also more protected against asthma if they have been breastfed.
  10. Breast milk protects children against allergic rhinitis.
  11. Children are less likely to suffer from severe eczema, wheezing and respiratory infections if they were breastfed as babies.
  12. Children who were breastfed as babies are also statistically less likely to suffer from ear infections.
  13. Evidence also suggests that continuing with some breast milk once a child starts weaning onto solids (usually around the age of 6 months) may protect them against the development of some food allergies.
  14. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop gastrointestinal infections and diarrhoea.
  15. Many of the benefits of breastfeeding during early childhood actually continue to benefit the individual once they’re adults, which is remarkable.

10+ Breastfeeding Benefits for Mums

  1. Breastfeeding also benefits mothersBreastfeeding a baby reduces the chance of mothers developing Type 2 Diabetes.
  2. Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer.
  3. They’re also less likely to develop ovarian cancer.
  4. They’re less likely to develop osteoporosis.
  5. Breastfeeding mums are also less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
  6. Their weight is also more likely to return to its normal level following pregnancy if they breastfeed.
  7. Breastfeeding a baby reduces the chance of mothers becoming obese.
  8. The uterus of mothers who breastfeed also returns to its normal size far sooner.
  9. Periods return later in mums who breastfeed, which could help with family planning.
  10. Last but not least, breastfeeding allows closer bonds to quickly form between baby and mother.

Treetops Nursery offers a private space for nursing mothersOur top 25 benefits of breastfeeding really only scratch the surface. Breastfeeding and breast milk have many more benefits including anything from saving money and being more convenient (nothing needs buying or preparing) to being better for the planet. With breast milk, there’s no packaging to throw away and it’s a totally sustainable food source, direct from nature. Incredible when you think about it.

Milk at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Parents/guardians of babies and children at Treetops Nursery are welcome to supply their own preferred milk, whether that’s bottled breast milk or specific types of formula milk. If supplying the latter, there’s no need to make it up as we can prepare it for your child, so that it’s more freshly prepared and the right temperature etc. Please do label your child’s milk/bottles/etc. with your child’s name, though. It’s also best to supply them in a cool bag, please, also clearly labelled. Nursing mums who wish to breastfeed their child at the nursery are also offered an appropriate, private space in which to do so.

Our Outstanding Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenAre you looking for the best nursery for your child? If so, you’ll find Treetops Nursery very hard to beat. Our nursery is in Willesden, so is near to Willesden Green, Kensal Green and Harlesden in London NW10. It’s suitable for babies, toddlers and children aged up to five. Fees are competitive, facilities and equipment are excellent and we received a glowing report from Ofsted. If you’re potentially interested in a nursery place for your baby or child while some are still available, please get in touch. We’ll be happy answer questions and show you/your child around too. Please select from the following as preferred:

Formula Milk Guide

In this guide, we explore all the different types of milk available to infants in the UKLast month, we mentioned what a huge topic formula milk is. So, in this post, we thought we’d explore all the different types of milk available to infants in the UK.

As a rule of thumb, the best type of milk for your baby is breast milk, given in tandem with suitable Vitamin D supplement drops. We’ve written a separate post about the benefits of breast milk here. Suffice it to say, though, that breast milk is best and has an enormous number of health benefits to both mother and child, including many that simply can’t be achieved by formula milk. That said, there are many reasons why formula milk may be the only viable option and we’ll explore the different types available in our Formula Milk Guide below.

First, though, some words of warning. There are several types of milk that you should never give to your baby if they’re under 12 months old.

Milk Types to Avoid Giving Babies Under 1

  • Condensed milk a.k.a. ‘Evaporated milk’ should be avoided. This is milk (usually from cows) that has been thickened by evaporating off about 60% of the water. It is usually also sweetened by adding sugar and has a slightly darker colour than standard milk.
  • Dried milk a.k.a. ‘Powdered milk’ or ‘Milk powder’ should also be avoided. This is liquid milk that has been evaporated until it’s turned into dry powder.
  • Cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk should also not be given to babies under 12 months of age except when used in cooking and only then when it’s been pasteurised. After the age of 1 it’s OK to drink so long as it’s pasteurised.
  • Soya milk, Oat milk, Rice milk and Almond milk, along with other similar drinks described as ‘milks’, should be avoided by babies under one.
  • Rice drinks should also be avoided right up to the age of 5 due to the presence of arsenic.

What Types of Formula Milk Can Your Little One Drink?

A young boy feeds bottled formula milk to his siblingBaby and infant formula milk comes ready-made in liquid form or as a powder that needs to be carefully and hygienically made up. The liquid variety is usually the more expensive of the two and needs to be used sooner, due to its shorter shelf life. Whichever is used, labels should be carefully checked to ensure suitability for the age of the particular baby/infant in question.

Note too, that there are many kinds of formula milk and one could argue that many of them are simply attempts by manufacturers to introduce niche products that appeal to a particular market or situation. As you’ll see, however, according to the NHS, some of the suggested benefits have no compelling evidence to support them.

Parents can look out to see if any particular types or brands of formula milk disagree with the baby and consider switching if so. It’s wise in these cases to take advice from your Health Visitor or midwife.

  • First Infant Formula Milk, a.k.a. ‘First Milk’ is the first type formula milk that babies should be given unless otherwise directed by a GP or Health Visitor. If they’re not being given breast milk, your baby can drink this from birth right up until they are 12 months old. It can also be given while the baby is weaning onto solids (usually from 6 months of age). It’s based on cows’ milk and contains easy-to-digest proteins (casein and whey) along with all the vitamins and nutrients that your growing baby needs.
  • Goats’ Milk Formula is an alternative to cows’ milk-based formula and comes in several varieties, each with the same standards and nutritional values as the corresponding cows’ milk formula. It’s also suitable from birth. However, if a baby or infant is allergic to cows’ milk, they are just as likely to be allergic to goats’ milk formula due to the close similarity of the proteins involved.
  • Hungrier Baby Formula a.k.a. ‘Hungry Milk’ is, as the name suggests, marketed as suitable for hungrier babies and contains a higher proportion of casein protein. However, parents should ask their Health Visitor or midwife for advice before giving their infant this type of formula milk. They should also know that there is no compelling evidence that it has any benefits compared to the standard formula milk option.
  • Guidance on the different types of formula milkComfort Formula is another type of formula milk based on cows’ milk, but the milk proteins it contains are already partially broken down (partially hydrolysed). It is marketed as being easier for the infant to digest and, as such, a formula milk that will reduce the chance of constipation or colic. However, there is no evidence to back up such claims. It’s suitable from birth but parents should ask for advice from their Health Visitor or midwife before giving their baby this type of milk, and certainly not use it if their infant is allergic to cows’ milk.
  • Hypoallergenic Formula Milk should be used only under professional medical supervision but, when approved for use, is suitable from birth. This type of milk contains fully broken down (hydrolysed) milk proteins and helps when your baby is allergic to cows’ milk-based formula milk.
  • Anti-Reflux Formula a.k.a. ‘Staydown Milk’ is thicker than standard formula milk and is designed to prevent babies from bringing up their milk during or after feeds. It’s another type of formula milk that is deemed suitable from birth but only under the professional medical supervision of a Health Visitor, GP or midwife. It’s also critically important to follow instructions on how to make it up or, better still, speak to one of the aforementioned health professionals about it due to temperature and storage safety issues inherent in this particular type of formula.
  • Lactose-Free Formula is designed for use by babies who are lactose intolerant, although this is rare in babies. It should be used only under the medical supervision of a Health Visitor, midwife or GP.
  • Follow-on formula milk is suitable for babies aged 6 months or older (never less) although evidence suggests that babies are better off continuing with First Infant Formula Milk for the whole of the first year rather than switching to follow-on formula at 6 months. Ask your Health Visitor or midwife for advice if considering switching to follow-on formula and always read the label carefully.
  • Good Night Milk is another type of formula milk that’s available. Marketed as a milk just for bedtime, it contains cereal, but there is no evidence to suggest it has any benefits whatsoever over standard formulas. Certainly it should never be given to babies less than 6 months of age so, as with so many of these special formula milks, ask for advice from your Health Visitor or midwife before giving your infant this type of formula milk.
  • Soya Formula Milk is, in theory, suitable for babies aged 6 months or older. It may be marketed as an alternative to cows’ milk formula for those who have an allergy. However in reality, it should only be given to a baby or infant when prescribed by a Health Visitor or GP. That’s primarily because soya contains phytoestrogens, which mimic oestrogen, the female hormone. As such, there is a concern amongst medical professionals that the developing reproductive system in babies and young children could be adversely disrupted. Soya-based formula milk also contains glucose, a sugar that can potentially harm teeth.
  • Growing-Up Milk a.k.a. ‘Toddler Milk’ is marketed as being suitable for toddlers aged 1 year or older and as an alternative to whole cows’ milk. However, there is no proof to suggest that it has any benefits over cows’ milk, so parents are advised to seek advice from their Health Visitor if they’re considering giving it to their child.

Milk After 12 Months

  • We explain what milk children should drink after the age of 1From the age of 1: your baby can move onto drinking whole pasteurised cows’ milk as their main drink (or alternatively sheeps’ or goats’ milk so long as it’s also pasteurised) as part of a healthy, balanced diet. It should not be given to children before they’re one because it does not contain enough iron.
  • From the age of 2: they can switch to semi-skimmed cows’ milk if they’re growing well for their age, are not underweight, are a good eater and have an overall healthy, balanced diet.
  • Do not give children skimmed or 1% milk if they’re under the age of 5. It simply does not contain enough calories for their requirements.
  • Daily vitamin supplements are recommended from the age of 6 months up to the age of 5 although do not need to be taken during their younger period when they’re drinking the requisite amount of age-appropriate formula milk because that will already be fortified with the vitamins. Otherwise, though, vitamin A, C and D are available for children in drop form until they’re five.

Looking for Outstanding Nurseries & Pre-Schools near Willesden or North West London?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenWe are Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10, and offer outstanding childcare services for babies and children up to five. We’re open Monday to Friday, 51 weeks of the year. If you are looking for the best nurseries, pre-schools and childcare services near Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green, please contact Treetops Nursery and we’ll be happy to tell you more, answer any questions and even show you/your child around. Please choose a button below to start the ball rolling, while a few nursery spaces remain:

Raising a Vegetarian Infant - Rough Guide

More and more parents are bringing up children as vegetariansMore and more parents are bringing up youngsters as vegetarians these days, so we thought we’d put together a rough guide to raising babies, toddlers and preschoolers as vegetarians. When doing so, certain considerations will need to be made, including ensuring that meals are nutritious, containing all the necessary food groups, vitamins and minerals needed by the very young.

Breast Milk

Babies will usually have breast milk or formula milk up until they are at least 6 months old. If they are only receiving breast milk, it’s recommended that they are given a suitable Vitamin D supplement, available as drops.

Vegetarian Formula Milk

There’s no need for Vitamin D supplements, though, with high quality, age-appropriate formula milk, as it’s already included. Formula-fed babies under six months should, of course, be receiving ‘First Milk’ (otherwise known as ‘First Infant Formula Milk’) and this contains everything they need during the first six months. It can be supplemented by solids once they start weaning, usually from the age of 6 months through to a year old.

Formula milk is available for vegetariansThe good news is that formula milk that’s suitable for vegetarians is available. Parents may ask their midwife or health professional for any recommendations in regard to types or brands, particularly if one formula milk disagrees with the baby. However, whichever brand and type is chosen, the formula milk must be formulated for the baby’s specific age. This is usually obvious on the product label.

Vegetarian formula milks are usually based on cow’s milk although many other alternatives are available. Parents who wish to limit how much dairy products their infant consumes therefore have quite a wide choice but, if they’re avoiding dairy, they need to ensure that the formula milk is fortified with extra calcium and is unsweetened. They also need to read up because formula milk is a surprisingly big topic and can be a little bit of a minefield. There are several concerns over soya milk and rice milk, for instance, but those are just two examples. Check out our Formula Milk Guide for much more information about all the different kinds available as well as which formula milks to avoid.

Moving to Solids

There are four main food groups that need to be covered in a child's dietFrom around the age of 6 months, your baby will usually start the process of weaning off of milk and begin to eat solid foods, albeit given in puréed or liquidised form initially. This is when parents then need to be mindful of their child’s nutritional needs and this is even more pertinent when bringing up a child as a vegetarian.

The four main food groups that need to be covered are:

  • Starch, which can come from foods like pasta, cereal, potato and bread;
  • Fruit and vegetables, whether fresh (ideally), tinned, frozen or dried;
  • Protein, which we’ll come to in a moment;
  • Dairy, which is OK for most vegetarians but not vegans. Dairy products need to be pasteurised, though, and full-fat versions are appropriate for little ones.

Sources of Protein for Vegetarian Children

Protein is often seen to be the most tricky of the food groups to cater for when bringing up a child as a vegetarian. With meat and even fish out of the picture for avid vegetarians, what options are available?

  • Many fruits and berries are great sources of Vitamin CWell, tofu and other soya products will contain good quantities of protein.
  • Nuts will too but you need to avoid whole nuts due to the potential choking hazard. So, smooth peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter or seed butters will help with protein. Walnut butter is a wonderful source of Omega-3 too.
  • Perhaps consider serving them on rye crackers.
  • Indeed grains are high in protein but should be provided in ground form for babies to avoid choking. Similarly oats, barley, rice and quinoa are great protein sources, quinoa itself containing all 9 of the essential amino acids.
  • Lentils, pulses, peas and beans are also great sources of protein.
  • Houmous (based on chickpeas) is also great for protein but, again, keep it smooth to avoid choking hazards in the very young.
  • For those not going the more strict vegan route, eggs and dairy products like cheese and yoghurt are good sources of protein. Eggs are a brilliant source of Vitamin B12 too, while dairy products are a great source of calcium and Vitamin D.

Your infant should have at least two portions a day of protein and these are essential in the absence of meat or fish, otherwise your child could miss out on not only the protein but also Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and amino acids (essential and non-essential varieties). So, protein from a variety of sources is advised.

What About Quorn?

Many vegetarian parents will eat Quorn (a popular mycoprotein) to replace meat. Is this any good for babies and infants?

While it is a great source of protein, it’s not recommended as a regularly eaten meat alternative for children under three because it can fill them up without giving them the necessary energy. That’s simply because it’s high in fibre but low in fat.

A Note About Iron

Some foods block the absorption of iron but there are ways to counteract that, including eating foods rich in Vitamin CIron is essential for growing children and can be found in many of the foods mentioned above. That said, it’s worth mentioning that some foods block the absorption of iron. Such foods include tea as well as whole grains and legumes containing ‘phytates’, dairy products containing ‘casein’ and eggs and dairy products that contain particular forms of calcium. The simple solution to many of these is as follows:

  • a) ensure the child has a varied diet,
  • b) for them to eat such foods away from main meals,
  • c) to include Vitamin C in the diet (as it will counteract the affect of phytates by binding to them) and
  • d) to soak, cook or sprout the grains, pulses or seeds.

In regard to giving Vitamin C to help increase absorption of iron, children can try satsumas, oranges or tangerines after meals, a drink of well-diluted fruit juice (e.g. 1 part fruit juice to 10 parts water) or to include vegetables and fruit high in Vitamin C as part of their meals. These include many fruits and berries plus many vegetables including asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, spinach, leafy greens, green or red peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and squash.

Vitamin Supplements

Age-appropriate vitamin drops may give parents peace of mind if their children are being brought up on a vegetarian diet. In fact, some parents on one or more specific benefits can receive free vitamin drops for children aged up to 4. These contain Vitamins A, C and D are suitable for vegetarians, also containing no milk or eggs. Note, however, that vitamin supplements are not required for children drinking the appropriate amount of nutritionally complete, age-appropriate formula milk each day.

We hope that this rough guide to raising an infant as a vegetarian is useful. It should only be used as a quick, introductory guide, though, so parents should do further research to get a more complete picture. It is also always wise, of course, to ask a health professional, GP or Health Visitor for their opinion on anything health-related for their individual child.

An Outstanding Nursery in Willesden

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops Nursery offers the highest quality, freshly-prepared food using the very best ingredients available to our in-house chef each day. Children’s dietary requirements are all catered for and that includes those on a vegetarian diet. This is all part of the excellent weekday childcare services and healthy approach to nutrition provided at our nursery and pre-school. We cater for babies and children aged up to five.

If you are looking for an outstanding nursery, pre-school or childcare service in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Kensal Green or London NW10, please contact us by selecting a button below. We’d love to hear from you and to show you and your child around the nursery, so you can see for yourself what an excellent setting it is and how well your child will fit in. Please make contact as soon as possible to avoid disappointment, while a few places remain available:

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:

Early Years Exercise – & Why it's Essential

The Benefits of Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise to children and why it's so essential, particularly for children under five

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of regular exercise to children and why it’s so essential, particularly for children under five. Exercise is shown to have a huge range of benefits to humans, and this is especially true for children, as we’ll see.

Students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviours.2

Some additional benefits of exercise — including a few that may surprise you — are:

  • Exercise is shown to have a huge range of benefits to humans, and this is especially true for childrenLess likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease including hyperlipidemia1;
  • Less likelihood of strokes1;
  • Less likelihood of developing high blood pressure1;
  • Less likelihood of developing cancer (including breast, colon, endometrial and lung cancer)1;
  • Less likelihood of developing glucose intolerance and insulin resistance1;
  • Less likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes1;
  • Less likelihood of developing low bone density and subsequent osteoporosis1;
  • Less likelihood of becoming obese1;
  • An improvement to the symptoms of depression and anxiety;
  • Stronger muscles and bones;
  • Improved physical fitness;
  • Maintenance of a healthier weight;
  • The creation of nerve connections in the developing brain, which aids learning;
  • Improved social skills and peer relationships through communal exercise and sport activities;
  • Healthier levels of self-confidence;
  • Improved coordination and motor skills;
  • A better quality of sleep.

Last but not least, exercise and physical activity can be great fun! Indeed, that is the key to encouraging children to exercise. Exercise doesn’t have to be a dull, repetitive chore. In contrast, it can and should be thoroughly good fun and great entertainment if approached in the right way. For example, as part of a game, sport activity or physical ‘challenge’.

Active play is a fun way of having exerciseHigher physical activity and physical fitness levels are associated with improved cognitive performance (e.g., concentration, memory) among students.3

With the NHS reporting that one in every five UK children are overweight or — worse — obese before they even start school, exercise is a critically important issue. If we can get children into good exercise and healthy eating habits in their early years, they’re statistically more likely to maintain healthy weights and to generally be more healthy as they grow towards adulthood.

Exercise Recommendations for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Downloadable Infographic: Exercise recommendations for babies, toddlers & preschoolersUK chief medical officers and the NHS each recommend4 a minimum of 3 hours (180 minutes) of physical activity every day for toddlers (1 to 2) and preschoolers (aged 3 to 4). The three hours should be spread over the course of the day and the NHS suggest a mixture of both light activity and more energetic physical activity, both indoors and outdoors (weather conditions permitting). A useful infographic4 can be downloaded via the thumbnail image shown.

Toddler exercise can include light activities such as standing up and generally moving around, rolling around and playing. Skipping, hopping, jumping and running activities would be suitable as the more energetic types of exercise from time to time each day. Active play can include climbing, cycling, ball games and playing in water. Supervised closely, of course.

Preschoolers aged 3 to just under 5 can do any of the above but it can be a little more vigorous, at times, as they’re a little more sure-footed and coordinated by that age.

Exercise for Babies

Parents, childcare professionals and carers should encourage babies to be active at periods throughout the day. Crawling is good (supervised and safe, of course). If they haven’t yet mastered crawling, they can move about on the floor as best they can (again under close supervision), moving limbs around, pushing, pulling, reaching, grasping and so on. The UK Chief Medical Offices’ guidelines suggest at least 30 minutes spread across the day.

There is now a large body of evidence that the amount of physical activity in the Under-5 period influences a wide range of both short-term and long-term health and developmental outcomes.4

Exercise & Physical Activity at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery is in Willesden, near Harlesden and Kensal Green in London's NW10Knowing how important it is, we take exercise very seriously at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. However, we ensure that it’s always fun and exciting, so that children enjoy it, naturally. Physical movement and active play are all part of the nursery’s EYFS curriculum, in fact. As well as carefully planned physical activities, active play, games and challenges tailored to the needs and abilities of each individual child, the nursery has a huge range of toys, games, equipment and interactive facilities. Together, these naturally encourage physical movement and exercise. The programme is pre-planned by staff and a ‘Key Person’ allocated to each child. In this way, every child accomplishes an optimal early years education and well-rounded developmental opportunities,  achieving personal bests along the way in readiness for the time when they’ll move on to school.

Are you Looking for Nursery Places in Willesden, Harlesden, Kensal Green or NW10?

At time of writing we have a few places available at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden and Kensal Green in London’s NW10. Do get in touch while they’re still available if you are looking for the highest quality childcare for babies, toddlers and under-five children in those areas. We’ll be happy to discuss nursery places with you …


References:
1. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Washington, DC: US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2018.
2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. Atlanta, GA; Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.
3. Michael SL, Merlo C, Basch C, et al. Critical connections: health and academics. Journal of School Health. 2015;85(11):740–758.
4. UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines, September 2019.

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.

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: