GIVING local children the best start in life is the aim of a new healthy eating scheme, at Kilcooley’s Jellie Tots Childcare.
Based in Kilcooley Women’s Centre, this new scheme hopes to encourage healthy eating behaviours in children aged five years old and under.
As many local parents are aware, good nutrition is essential during childhood, as it is a time of rapid growth, development and activity. It is also a vital time for healthy tooth development and prevention of decay.
General eating habits and patterns are formed in the first few years of life, so it is important that the food and eating patterns to which young children are exposed - both in and outside the home - are based on good nutrition.
If healthy habits and eating patterns are adopted at a young age it leads to healthy habits, eating patterns, and healthy attitudes to food in their adult life.
With the help of funding from the Kilcooley Community Forum Tudor Trust, a healthy eating programme has been developed and co-ordinated by Jellie Tots Childcare to help give every child the best start in life.
The children will be provided with nutritious snacks and will be encouraged to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, as well as ‘tooth friendly’ drinks.
Speaking to the Spectator, Elaine Moore, Jellie Tots childcare supervisor said, “Healthy eating and physical activity are essential for growth and development in early childhood. It is important to promote good health and positive attitudes to nutrition.
“Growing children need plenty of energy and nutrients to ensure they develop normally. A good appetite will usually make sure they get enough energy from the food they eat, but there is evidence that children under five years old are consuming diets higher in the type of sugar that damages teeth, than is currently recommended.
Elaine said, ”The number of children under five spending some time being cared for outside the family home has risen substantially as an increasing number of mothers of young children return to the workforce.
“As part of Jellie Tots healthy eating programme children will be provided with a healthy break and given fruit bags to take home. Jellie Tots will also be providing each child with a tooth brush and toothpaste to encourage good dental hygiene at home.”
Emma Mooney, Kilcooley health development officer said, “With more parents attending the centre, increasing numbers of children are spending longer periods of time in childcare outside their own homes.
“This has implications for their dietary intake, as a large proportion of meals and snacks are now eaten on the go.
Break time snacking is important for children to ensure they get all the nourishment they need to fuel their active days and to fight off illness; therefore the type of snack given is important.
Emma said, ”Jellie Tots Childcare therefore has a crucial role to play in promoting healthy nutrition.”