When planning meals for young children it is best to meet their nutritional needs. Each meal should be the right consistency for the child and include all of the major food groups. There are five food groups, bread, cereals and potatoes (starchy food), fruit and vegetables, milk cheese and yoghurt, meat, fish eggs, beans, lentils (protein) and foods high in fat and sugar.
When planning a meal the fruit and vegetables should be served at each meal and should try and have five servings of either each day. Milk cheese and yoghurts should be served three times a day and bread and cereals either as a snack such as bread sticks or as an accompaniment to a meal. Meat, fish or a vegetarian option should be served three times a day.
Foods which are high in fat and sugar can be included every day in addition to the other food groups but one a child is 2 years old you can gradually lower the fat in their diet.
All of the five food groups combined will give the nutrients required for a healthy balanced diet.
Young children should eat according to the appetites and not portion sizes.
It is good to introduce new foods to children and encourage them to try these and let the parents know what meals the children have tried to encourage a large choice of different foods.
You also need to be aware of any cultural diets that may need extra consideration.
CYPOP 2: Care for the physical and nutritional needs of babies and young
Some children may suffer some allergies or intolerance to foods.
A child with a server allergy to nuts may react even if someone else in the room has a bar with nuts in depending on the severity of the allergy. The child may react in various ways such as swelling of the skin or a rash or start to be unable to breath easily.
All instructions received from carers regarding their children should be advised to all staff and in areas such as the kitchen a photo of the child with their allergy written in large should be displayed so everyone who may be serving the child food is aware.
It is best that children under 1 year are not given cows milk to drink because their digestive system cannot cope with it. Also avoid with baby’s shark, swordfish and marlin because it contains high levels of mercury and this can affect the baby’s growing nervous system. Avoid raw shell fish to reduce the risk of developing food poison.
Foods that are low-fat, low calorie and high in fibre foods are not suitable for babies as they needs small portions that contain lots of nutrients and calories.
Nuts should not be given to children under 5 years as they can choke on them. If there is a history of a allergy of peanuts in the family then this should be checked by a doctor. As with any type of allergy it can lead to a severe reaction, or possibly an anaphylactic shock and will need to be treated at hospital or immediately with an Epi pen.
Some children have a reaction to eggs whether they are cooked on uncooked. Eggs may contain bacteria if not cooked correctly this can lead to food poisoning.