Children in childcare deserve the benefits of healthy food, active play, and limited screen time. Not only will it help them grow up healthier, but children learn better in healthy environments.
Parents want their children to eat healthy food, be active, and have limited screen time in childcare, and providers agree it’s their role to offer an environment that nurtures healthy children.
With 60% of American children spending a majority of their day in early childhood programs, these programs must have clear standards that help providers deliver what parents want and what every child deserves.
Young children who eat healthy foods, stay active, and limit daily screen time are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and have the potential for lifelong health. That’s something we can all get behind: giving all kids the building blocks for a healthy life.
Importance of Serving Healthy Foods:
Kids are sweet enough. Sugary drinks like fruit drinks, soda, sports drinks, and sweetened waters are the largest source of added sugars for children as young as two and don’t belong in early care and education (or childcare)
Start kids off right with water. Making the switch from unhealthy drinks to healthy ones cuts calories kids don’t need. Water is the best choice for children who are thirsty between meals.
Here comes an airplane! Giving children meals and snacks full of vegetables, fruits and whole grains helps their bodies grow and minds develop.
Importance of Active Play:
Young children need opportunities to be active; to jump, run, dance, and move their bodies.
Baby steps are the first steps to fitness. Physical activity patterns develop in childhood and tend to last through adulthood.
Preschoolers should get at least one hour of physical activity every day, because it promotes health and movement skills. In fact, preschoolers should not be sedentary for more than an hour at a time, except when sleeping.
Physical activity is essential for kids to reach their developmental milestones.
Limiting Digital Media Use:
Studies have shown that excessive screen use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and chronic diet-related diseases.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding use of screen media other than video-chatting for children younger than 18 months. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing. For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Recommendations also include that parents or caregivers co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best when they interact with people rather than screens.
Reducing screen time gives more opportunities for active play and more time to interact with caregivers and other children.