All our meals are prepared onsight by our inhouse cook. Our three week menu rotates each week. Our menu offers children a wide range of healthy and nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day. We provide a wide variety of foods to encourage children to have a healthy and balanced diet.
Healthy Eating Policy
First Steps crèche ensures snacks that are given between meals are healthy, nutritious that help provide children with the energy and nutrients they need. Menus are reviewed and changed on a regular basis to ensure a varied range of food choices for the children. Our weekly menu is displayed at the reception board and on our website. Any changes in the menu will be noted and any food that are substituted will be equal nutrient value. (see Appendix A)
We feel it is important at a young age to introduce and educate children in our care about good nutrition and the healthy food choices and benefits. We will ensure our children’s safety by complying with all the relevant legislations and framework.
Healthy eating is promoted through an arrangement of activities for the children including play, stories, music, cookery etc. The implementation of this Healthy Eating Policy will not only relate to the provision of healthy foods and drinks in the service, in order to promote the nutritional and general well-being of the children, but it will also address food related activities involving the children which should encourage and enable them to make healthy choices in the future.
- First Steps Creche Menu operates on a three-week menu plan (see Appendix A). All food is cooked and prepared on the premises under a strictly monitored HACCP programme recommended by the HSE.
- Our menus are designed to provide a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Our plan shows a guide for breakfast, dinner and afternoon snack. Additional snacks are available throughout the day.
- At the end of week three the menu reverts to week one again and so on. This way we can be sure that each child receives the recommended number of serving from all food groups each day. We will also ensure that appropriate portion sizes are offered.
- The menu for the week is written up each week and is displayed prominently for everyone to see.
- In planning the menu, an effort is made to provide nutritious and well-balanced meals with a minimum of salt, sugar, frozen and fast foods.
- Mealtimes are relaxed and happy occasions where children are encouraged but never forced to eat any part of their meal, nor is food withheld for any reason other than dietary limitations. Extra portions are generally available.
- We wish to encourage a healthy lifestyle with emphasis on the enjoyable and social aspects of eating together.
Parents/guardians are asked to inform staff of any special dietary requirements. Every endeavour will be made to meet the needs of any special dietary requirement. The Manager will ensure a dietary care plan is drawn up and notify the kitchen.
Procedures and Practices:
- Drinks and small snacks are available throughout the day.
- Well-balanced and nutritious meals are provided for the children. A variety of foods is selected from each of the four main food groups every day:
o Fruit and vegetables
o Milk and dairy foods
o Meat, fish and alternatives
- Drinks, small snacks and fresh fruits are always available in our care.
- Processed meat products such as burgers and chicken nuggets are not served in First Steps Creche. We only use fresh meat (beef, chicken, turkey) and fish.
- Special dietary needs are respected. Parents are requested to give First steps Crèche management a copy of the diet sheet provided by their dietitian.
- Mealtimes are used as an opportunity to encourage good social habits.
- Whenever possible children and adults eat together.
- Good table manners will be encouraged.
- Children will also be engaged in conversation if they wish.
- Children that are slow eaters will be given time to eat and not rushed.
- Parents will be informed on what their child eats each day.
- Parents choices are supported such as bottle feeding.
- All infant formula must come in premeasured in a container and will be added to water in creche.
- Parents must label all bottles with their child’s name.
- Our service is supportive of receiving expressed breast milk or alternatives.
- Children will be encouraged to sit down when eating and/or drinking. During meals and snacks staff will sit with children as a role model.
- Mealtimes should be engaged with in a positive way with the children. Staff must not use any negative association with food at any time with the children.
- Sweets and fizzy drinks are not offered. Where possible snacks are sugar- free to avoid causing damage to teeth and “sugar rushes”. Fresh fruit is an ideal snack choice. Whole milk, (full fat unless requested otherwise by parents/guardians), and water is provided for children as a drink between meals.
- Fruit juices and squashes are not given to children.
Parties and Special Occasions:
- Praise and attention are used to help develop children’s self-esteem and to act as a positive reward for good behaviour. Food, e.g. sweets, should not be used as reward.
- If other forms of reward are used, they support and do not conflict healthy eating principles.
- For children’s birthdays First Steps Creche will provide an ice cream cake. Parents and guardians are not permitted to bring cakes or other treats from at home.