Children in child care 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 child care, 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 child care and education programs, these programs must have clear standards that help providers deliver what parents want and what every child deserves. Healthy standards are important in making sure all children build healthy eating and active play habits that can last a lifetime.
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, sports drinks, sweetened waters and soda are the largest source of added sugars for children as young as two and don’t belong in early care and education (ECE).
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.
For ECE Providers: You are important — because kids are with you most of the day, the food experiences you share can influence what they eat. Nutrition standards in child care make sure that all children have the opportunity to develop healthy eating habits.
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.
For infants, daily tummy time helps them build muscle strength, prepares them for rolling and crawling, and helps build their brains by giving them a new view of the world around them.
Physical activity is essential for kids to reach their developmental milestones.
For ECE Providers: You are important — you help children learn healthy habits they’ll keep through their lives. Standards that incorporate one hour of active play with you and their friends help kids have fun and stay healthy.
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.
For ECE Providers: You are important — you help children balance their day with many activities. Technology can be a great teaching tool, but time spent using tablets, computers, TVs or smart phones should be limited and used appropriately. Standards help children learn how to be smart with screen time.