A Child's Palette: Expanding Food Options Through Child Care Centers

Getting children to eat healthy foods can be a challenge. Millions of parents have battled with their children over making healthier choices for fruits, vegetables, and trying all types of new foods. While the struggle may be hard at home, it can be easier somewhere else. If you plan on sending your son or daughter to a child care center, then there are a number of ways you can implement new foods and really expanding their palette. Starting young is a great way to introduce all types of foods that can be later incorporated into family meals.

Group Snacks

A number of child care centers will offer children a variety of group snacks. These snacks are great because everyone there will get to enjoy the same meal. If your child sees other children eating the snack, then it may encourage them to try and do the same thing. A variety of healthy snack options includes carrot sticks, fruit slices, or vegetable rolls. When the group snack is made into a fun event, your child can look forward to trying the new food and experiencing all different tastes. Once you know what the snack is, then you can also introduce in the home that night to help expand their experience and give them more to eat.

Holiday Traditions

Celebrating the holidays is a great way to experience all different types of traditions and that includes various foods as well. As your child gets into the holiday spirit, special events at a child care center may introduce them to all types of meals or snacks that represent the various holidays. Mixing both geography, history, and food lessons all into one, your child may get to try all types of foods including mince pies or babka bread. If the child care center is seeking holiday items from parents, then you can even cook with the child to make a special meal that they can share and eat with everyone in the class.

Food Art

Child care centers can offer a lot when it comes to different curriculum, and this also includes various types of art projects. For toddlers, food art is a great way to mix meals and creative design all into one. Various programs might use fruits, vegetables, yogurts, and puddings to create various pieces of art work. When this is the case, your child can have fun creating the art and not be so focused on the snack or foods that they are eating along the way. It's a good way to expose them to a variety of food options and see how different food textures feel. Often times, the extra art materials will make a fun snack that children can eat when their masterpiece creations are done.

Food Sensory Games

One way that child care centers can help children explore different types of foods is with food sensory games. Various games can showcase the scents, textures, and various attributes that food has. For example, random foods may be placed inside individual brown bags. Without being able to see the food, a child may smell it or feel it with their hands. This is a great lesson in identifying smells and understanding different food textures. Once the food is taken out of the bags, it may even be cut in half or pulled apart to show differences on the inside. Doing all of these food experiments can help a child process the items more than just having random food get plopped on their plate.

Every child care center is different, so if food choices are important to you, then you look at various ways that the food activities can work in your child's favor.

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