Providing childcare comes with many challenges, one of which may include ensuring that the child you are responsible for receives adequate nutrition at meal time. Every child has specific needs that must be met, but some children require unique diets or have parents that set strict meal guidelines. As the child’s caregiver, you must creatively plan meals that meets the nutritional needs of your child as well as any wishes from your employer — a task that can often seem difficult. Use these tips to make meal planning as a child care provider simple.
Lots of Colors
Not only are bright colors fun and more attractive to children, but filling a plate with beautifully colored fruits and vegetables will help ensure that the child in your care is getting a healthy meal. Brightly colored foods are high in nutritional value and contain critical dietary components. If you find meal planning challenging, choose to serve foods of certain colors on specific days to easily cover all of the important nutritional bases.
Share Meal Time
Having the child in your care sit and actually consume all of their food can be a frustrating task, one that can be solved simply by you sharing a meal together. Plan to eat your breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner with the child. Children who have nannies may not have the benefit of sharing a meal with their parents or family members throughout the week, an act that is an important teaching tool for communication and manners. Eating with the child will fill this gap and make mealtime easier for both of you.
Communicate with the Parents
Parents want the best for their children, and as an employee of the household it is important that you remain in constant communication with your employers about their child’s nutrition. Parents often have set standards of guidelines for meals that you must creatively follow. This can make your job easier, as the basic outline of the child’s meal plan has been provided for you. If the parents have not given any guidelines, sharing information about the child’s daily nutrition will let them know that you are doing an excellent job as their child’s caregiver.
Keep Your Time Frame Short
Unless otherwise specified by your employer, it is not necessary to stress over a month’s worth of menu plans in one setting. Decrease your stress and plan better by keeping the timeframe for your menus at a week or two. Duplicating a week long meal plan throughout the month by repeating every seven days is an easy way to meet the child’s nutritional needs while also keeping the task simple.
Likes and Dislikes
Some children are extremely picky eaters, which can make meal time difficult. It is very disheartening to continuously see food left on a plate. Do not waste your time presenting the child with foods that you know they will not eat. Invest in learning the likes and dislikes of the child so that you may build a meal plan that is enjoyable and also meets their needs.
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