Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 1.1: Support healthy lifestyles for children through the provision of food and nutrition
Learning outcome: Understand the nutritional needs of children
Assessment criteria: Explain strategies to encourage healthy eating.
There are several strategies that early years practitioners can use to encourage healthy eating in young children. One key strategy is to lead by example. Children who see their caregivers eating healthy foods are more likely to do the same.
Ensuring a variety of different foods (colours, textures, flavours etc.) are available and appealing to children is another key strategy. In addition, if meals and snacks are made visually appealing, children are more likely to eat them.
Healthy eating can be made fun and interesting by involving children in meal planning and preparation. This also ensures that children are given choice about what they eat and that their preferences are considered.
These strategies can be combined with other learning opportunities, such as learning about foods from different cultures, which will also provide children with opportunities to try new foods.
Making mealtimes a social occasion where conversation is encouraged can also help create a positive association with healthy eating.
Set routines can also promote healthy eating because they provide structure, and children know what to expect. This can be especially helpful for snacks, as it prevents children from grazing throughout the day.
Another strategy is to educate children about the importance of healthy eating. This can be done through stories, songs, games, and other activities.
Finally, it is important to create a supportive environment for healthy eating. This means having adequate resources and support available for both children and parents/carers and providing praise and encouragement.