Nutrition and Dental Policy
2. Dental care
- Nutrition in childhood influences growth, activity, intellectual and emotional development. A healthy eating pattern is a foundation for good health throughout life. Essential nutrients in food are the building blocks of growth and development and children should learn to eat and enjoy the wide variety of food needed for good health.
- The centre wishes to provide nutritional food for the children in its care and wishes to encourage healthy eating habits.
- The centre aims to offer its children at least 50% of their daily recommended dietary intake of nutrients in the form of safe and appetising food.
- The centre will respect individual tastes and special needs of each child, particularly in relation to allergies and diversity in background.
- By providing a variety of foods that depict various cultures and include all the components of the five food groups, the children will develop healthy eating patterns for life.
- The centre’s menu is developed by the cook, Director, staff and parents. Parents are encouraged to become involved in menu planning by providing the cook with examples of popular children’s recipes.
- The menu is displayed in the foyer and menus are rotated weekly, in a six week cycle.
- When creating the menu, preference will be given to fresh food over processed food as much as possible.
- In light of the recent obesity epidemic in Australia and the importance of good nutrition in child hood, attention will also be given to portion sizes. In addition, morning tea will consist of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Special dietary requirements and allergies
- Alternative food and drink options will be made available to children who have particular dietary or cultural requirements.
- As some children have severe food allergies, no food is to be brought into the centre by children or their parents without the prior consent of the centre’s director.
- The centre is nut and egg free.
- Exceptions are only likely to be granted on the basis of medical requirements and are at the discretion of the director.
- Should a child require formula it is to be supplied by the child’s family.
- It is to be supplied to the Centre in its original packaging. It will be prepared onsite by the educators.
- Formula will be discarded one month after opening and the educators will alert parents of the need for its replacement.
- All food will be offered to all children (with the exception of children suffering from food allergies, food intolerances or children subject to other special dietary requirements) and children will be encouraged to try a bit of everything.
- Food will never be used to attempt to alter the children’s behaviour.
- For children arriving before 8.00 am, breakfast consisting of a healthy cereal will be on offer.
- Morning tea will consist of: fresh seasonal fruit and a choice of low fat milk, soy milk or water.
- Lunch varies daily, but the centre aims to offer lunches of a high nutritional value, incorporating all components of the five food groups.
- Afternoon tea will consist of fresh seasonal fruit and a wholegrain snack and a choice of low fat milk, soy milk or water.
- To encourage healthy eating habits servings will be kept small to encourage children to finish their meals, but seconds will be on offer.
- Children will not be rushed during mealtimes and for poor eaters very small servings will be offered to establish a pattern of finishing a meal.
- Foods will be provided that depict cultural foods the children may eat at home.
Food and education
- Lunch is provided in a variety of settings to maintain a variety of interests. Social interaction is fostered amongst the children and staff through eating meals indoors and outdoors in a variety of settings.
- On occasions the children at the centre will eat meals together in one room to celebrate festivals or to set up a restaurant atmosphere or smorgasbord.
- Staff members shall provide a positive role model and display positive attitudes about food to the children and will keep the atmosphere relaxed and pleasant.
- Staff will discuss the colour, texture and smell of the food with the children and will explain the importance of healthy eating to the children.
- From time to time, the children will be encouraged to participate in food preparation and food service activities that are educational. When this occurs, staff will ensure that all children and staff wash their hands before handling food. Staff will also explain the importance of food safety to children.
- Age appropriate table manners will be encouraged.
Birthdays and other special occasions
- To protect the wellbeing of children with allergies and special dietary requirements, parents are not allowed to bring birthday cakes into the centre that contain certain allergens, such as nuts, nut oils or egg.
- When parents do bring in a cake, they need to provide the staff members with the ingredients so that staff can take the needs of children with allergies/intolerances into account.
- Children who have allergies or intolerances will be provided with an alternative treat.
- If parents wish to bring in a birthday cake, the Centre prefers cakes without icing and without additional lollies or toppings. The cake, or small cup cakes, should be able to be divided into 20 small portions. Some alternatives to cake are jelly cups, popcorn, chocolate crackles.
- To protect the wellbeing of children with special dietary requirements and allergies and to allow the centre to manage the six weekly nutritional intake of the children, children are asked not to hand out cards (such as birthday, Christmas or Easter cards) that include treats such as chocolates or lollies.
- The opportunity for pre-school aged children to access dental care is limited. The Australian Bureau of Statistics 1991 data found that only 26% of these children had visited a dentist in the previous two years.
- The centre wishes to encourage awareness of maintaining healthy teeth in early childhood to help:
- reduce or prevent dental decay
- increase healthy gums
- promote healthy nutrition practices to ensure ongoing oral health.
- A program of oral health will be developed and implemented in the Centre on an on-going basis. The program will be carried out daily and with resource support provided by the Centre, staff and parents.
Learning about healthy teeth
- Children are encouraged to participate in planned oral health experiences in the program, which includes cleaning their teeth after a meal by eating or finishing a meal with a piece of apple or a drink of water and by talking about the importance of cleaning teeth regularly
- Staff will encourage children to explore and learn about dentists and dental experiences through role-play with resources provided. They will also learn about baby teeth and losing their teeth.
- The children will learn about the importance of eating nutritious and healthy food – and limiting special occasion food – to help maintain oral health.
- Emergency and referral information about where to seek appropriate dental care for children will be made available to parents if required. Staff will ensure that this is done discretely if they believe that parents may need assistance with this.
- The Centre will invite dental professionals to visit the Centre and the children to educate them on the importance of dental hygiene.
Use of dummies and bottles
- As prolonged use of dummies and bottles can cause damage to teeth (misalignment and decay), staff will discuss giving up dummies and/or bottles with parents of children that use dummies and/or bottles.
- Parents are provided with information regarding the program and child oral health issues such as development of children’s teeth, care of children’s teeth, and good nutrition.
- Food for health: Dietary guidelines for Australians
- A guide to healthy eating. Australian Government, Department of Health and Aging, 2005
- Oral Health Promotion: A Resource Pack for Children’s Services. Health Promotion Division, Dental Health Services Victoria
Policy adopted: 13 December 2011
Policy amended: 19 March 2014
Review: June 2015