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Food for Day Care
Many mothers return to work when their little one is a toddler.  Single parents may also use day care as part of their parenting.  This is a big step for both parents and toddlers.  Food can be one of the challenges.  When lunch time comes round at home, if your child refuses a particular food today, you can offer something else.  For day care, you must decide early what youíll send to the carer for your child.  The best idea is to send small amounts of a variety of favourite foods.  Talk to the carer in advance.  There will probably be a policy about the type of snacks.  At many centres or family day care homes, only water, crackers and diced fruit is offered to children mid-morning.  Fruit may be chosen by each child from a central bowl.  This kind of snack is really healthy.

Bread, cheese, custard, yoghurt, noodles, egg and diced vegetables are all healthy and easy to prepare foods that will give your toddler energy and be fun to eat for lunch.

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Good food habits

Good eating habits begin as soon as a baby begins tasting solid food.  Some babies accept all food as it is offered but some are fussy.  It is best to persist in offering tiny tastes of the same food until it is accepted.  Savoury tastes are important to develop.  All too soon children develop a liking for the over sweet foods that many food companies market.  Raw fruit without added sugar makes an excellent snack any time of day because it contains energy without spoiling the appetite for the main meal.  Look for the fruits in season. 


Choose fruit juices that do not have added sugar.  Better still, prepare your own drinks from fresh fruit.  Remember that commercial juice often contains extra vitamin C and one glass per day of this type of juice will provide enough.  Drinking water is very important.  Encourage this habit when your child is very young.


Even toddlers under two years will love to help prepare food in the kitchen.  Helping is one way to develop an interest in new foods too.  Toddlers can help by:

  • snapping fresh beans into pieces

  • washing snow peas

  • putting weetbix in the breakfast bowls

  • pouring ingredients into the home-made muesli mix

  • mixing muesli with the hands

  • helping to knead scone dough

  • spooning the mashed potato into the plates

  • washing salad vegetables

  • learning to pick up pieces of fruit with tongs (I see toddlers doing this at child care centres)

Make sure that your toddler is helping you in a safe place.  Protect the child from sharp and hot things.

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Hot boats

Kids love to eat and help prepare novelty food. Here is a healthy fun snack.

Slit a bread roll scoop out most of the soft middle fill with chopped ham or a spoonful of cooked mince and some chopped tomato sprinkle with garlic salt, top with grated cheese. Bake in oven or microwave until cheese has melted. Add a carrot stick mast. Eat.

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Treats for diabetic kids

With Christmas approaching, kids and adults too are likely to be invited to parties where much of the food is sweet and inappropriate for diabetics. As more and more people become obese it is important to reduce fat and sugar in all our diets so concerned parents will be on the lookout for ways to do this. Here is an idea I found at www.diabetic-lifestyle.com

Frozen Strawberry Pops

Ingredients

  • 8 large ripe strawberries

  • 2/3 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate

  • 2 cans sugar free lemonade

Method

  • Blend strawberries with pineapple juice until smooth

  • Stir lemonade in well

  • Pour into 8 small paper cups.

  • Freeze for 30 minutes then stick a pop-stick into the middle of each popper. Freeze for at least 3 hours.

 To serve, let stand at room temperature just until you can peel off the paper cup. Eat at once.

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Fruit Faces

Summer time is great for fresh fruit. Some pre-schoolers are unwilling to try new fruits, but a novelty approach may work. Cars appeal to boys and it is easy to make a fruit car on a plate. Use a half slice of watermelon for the car body and let your imagination work freely to construct the rest. Suggestions are kiwi fruit wheels, a banana driver, mango strips for the windows and peaches slices for mudguards.

Girls may prefer a fruit dolly. Use banana for the dollís body and legs, cherry or grapes for feet, a peach slice for her head and mango or melon for her skirt. Umbrellas, bags and hats can be cut from pineapple, pawpaw and orange segments.

Children love helping to make fruit novelties and youíll find that they come up with lots of their own ideas. 

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Fruit vegetables and fun

There is currently an excellent ad on TV showing a child making a healthy food rocket. Iím sure it will appeal to children because it shows a child doing something fun himself. At the supermarket a couple of days later, I saw a free magazine at the checkout showing a boy also holding a good food fun snack. I took the magazine home and visited the website associated with it. The site is full of recipes children can follow and every one promotes healthy eating habits in a fun way.  There are also interactive games for children to play. Do take a look and get your children involved www.freshfoodkids.com.au

Congratulations to the company. I hope other supermarkets will follow this lead.

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Family exercise

Family exercise is a great way to relax with the kids. When my children were small we had a pet donkey. Every afternoon before dark we took the donkey out walking. One child rode and the others walked alongside. The donkey, as well as the children looked forward to this. Not many families will have a donkey but many have dogs that need and enjoy exercise. Why not make it a family outing? In this way, everyone benefits. The route can be chosen by a different member of the family each day. Even for primary aged children it is good to have an adult along as there can be problems. Barking dogs in gardens may frighten your animal and other children may try to interfere with it. There is also traffic to watch out for.

If you donít have a dog, you could walk to see a dog that belongs to someone else. There is sure to be friendly person who owns a dog, in a street not too far away. If you stop to talk to a dog owner and ask about the animal, they will soon welcome the attention you and the children give. Remember though, to teach your children never to touch a dog that is not familiar to them unless the owner says it is safe to touch.

If you feel tired at the end of the day, an energetic walk will revive your spirits and youíll be setting a good example for your kids to follow.

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Dancing

Dancing is an activity that can reach from birth to death. It reaches across all cultures and can be gentle or vigorous, sad or joyous, demure or sexy, and can be done alone or in groups. It is a healthy exercise and one to be encouraged.

How can dancing begin at birth? Almost all babies like to be jiggled and almost all parents spontaneously jig their baby up and down to provide comfort. Jiggling is a form of dancing. Put on some music, turn on the radio and dance while holding baby in your arms.

By the time baby is standing up holding onto some furniture, he/she will probably be moving in time to the music. This is the first dancing a baby will do spontaneously. Toddlers who see television will be sure to join in dance routines in their own way. By pre-school age, children are skilled copiers, and dancing and singing have become second nature. By joining in yourself and initiating dance or movement each day, children will continue to develop their skills and gain aerobic exercise at the same time.

Dancing can take different forms. Many towns have dancing groups so that youngsters can learn ballet, Scottish dancing, tap, line dancing or ballroom dancing. Groups for adults are also available. With the Beijing Olympics approaching we have seen how gentle dance movements are followed by Chinese people of all ages in public places to herald in each day. All forms of dance give wonderful exercise but if you dance at home to music of your choice, it doesnít cost a thing and can be such fun for the whole family.

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Sport

The Olympics has focused a great deal of attention on sport in the last month. From the media we see that many schools and individual teachers have organised Mini Olympics for children, with emphasis on taking part rather than on winning or with every participant getting a reward. I have done this myself during storytime, by holding the Toy Olympics, much to the delight of the children.

Sporting clubs everywhere have had an upsurge of interest in sport from swimming to athletics, hockey to gymnastics, basketball to boxing, beach volleyball to sailing. Of course we are all pleased when one of our teams or athletes wins a medal, but it is pleasing to see the media coverage given to so many different events and athletes from other countries. Iím sure that friendships will have been forged between athletes world wide. Hopefully the upsurge in sports interest will continue so that more people take up an active lifestyle.

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 germs in the classroom

Children are prone to catch an illness easily because they often have their heads together and donít think to take preventative measures. They learn at school that germs cause colds and flu, and other illnesses but they find it hard to understand that germs will be passed around even though they canít be seen. Is it possible to reduce the number of colds in the classroom or child care room by taking simple measures.

  • Teach young children how to blow their noses in a tissue and to put the used tissue in the bin

  • Train kids to wash after using the toilet.

  • Remind children to cover their mouths and noses while coughing

  • See that they wash their hands after blowing noses

  • Have a washing routine after handling toys and before eating

Have a policy of not accepting sick children in your room. Have posters in your room about hygiene and be a good role model.

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More on germs

I learnt something new today and wonder if you already know it. We teach children to cover their mouths when coughing but they should cough into their elbow rather than covering the mouth or nose with the hand. It makes sense, as germs transferred to the hand will be passed on to people, toys, doors, chairs etc. whereas germs caught by the clothing or skin on the inside of the elbow are unlikely to touch anyone else or any toys. Research has shown that viruses can remain viable for several hours on surfaces. Of course teach children to use tissues when blowing their noses or wiping mouths and to discard the used tissue into an appropriate bin. Teach your child to blow one nostril at a time, closing the other one off firmly as this is best for the ears.

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avoid heat stress

We were beginning to think that summer would pass without any summery days. Half way through January, the hot weather has struck with a vengeance. Some states are experiencing day after day of 35 to 45degree temperatures. Special care should be taken that children have sufficient fluids to drink, especially water. They need shady areas to play in and will need sunscreen reapplied often. While the water at the beach is very inviting, remember that people burn very quickly there because of the glary light and children burn fastest of all.

The best lunch time food for hot days is salad food. In an esky pack tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, pineapple pieces, raw beetroot which is crunchy, tuna or smoked salmon, and thin sheets of Lebanese style bread in which to roll up the salad fillings. Children will love helping themselves to this type of food. Tomato juice or fruit juice without added sugar is most refreshing to end this type of  picnic.

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Too much water

It was almost unbelievable that while Victoria was being devastated by bushfires, there were disastrous floods in Queensland and then northern NSW. Where ever there is flood, there is a threat of waterborne disease as the water goes down. Clean water is sometimes polluted by unclean water getting into the system. River and creek water may have dead animals floating in it or be polluted by mud.  Water for drinking should be boiled to avoid this

Mosquitoes breed quickly in any pool of water and with mosquito bites comes the risk of Ross river Fever and Dengue Fever in Australia, and in many countries there is Malaria. Here are some tips to avoid getting bitten.

  • mozzie proof your home with screens

  • keep insect screened doors and windows shut

  • don't sit outside in the evenings but if you do, wear long sleeves and long slacks

  • use insect repellent

  • burn an insect coil near where you sit

  • use a mosquito net to sleep under

  • empty all outdoor water containers so mozzies wonít have a place to breed

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Stop infections spreading

No parent likes to see their child sick and illness such as gastroenteritis can spread very fast between children. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It causes diarrhoea and vomiting and  is very contagious. Between three and five million children die throughout the world every year from it.

Vomiting is always unpleasant for a child and for everyone else around. It is particularly unpleasant for the adult who has to clean up after the incident. Children often vomit when they feel unwell and it does not necessarily mean the child is very sick. The causes are varied.  It may be caused by

  • a fever

  • eating too much food

  • eating rich or sugary food

  • eating contaminated food

  • swallowing mucous because of a simple cold

  • a virus infection

There may be a more serious cause such as a blow to the head, appendicitis or meningitis.

Preventing spreading infection

The two main methods of prevention are hygiene and isolation. Prevention is better than cure. Always wear gloves when attending to a childís toileting. Always wash

  • after attending to a child at the toilet

  • after touching animals

  • before handling food.

Other ways to stop infection spreading are

  • keep play things clean 

  • use disinfectant regularly

  • refrigerate food promptly

  • wash thoroughly all utensils which have been used on uncooked meat

  • wash salad food and fruit in clean water before eating it

  • boil water for drinking if there is any risk of contamination.

Learn to look for symptoms that your child is unwell. Symptoms may be

  • loss of appetite

  • child is grumpy or moody, tired or listless

  • child complains of being cold when the day temperature is normal,

  • complains of aches and pains, or has a fever.

If your child has any of these symptoms keep him/her at home.

Treatment.

Always get medical advice if your child vomits more than a couple of times in a day. Dehydration occurs very quickly so make sure that the child is drinking plenty of water. Any child who has vomited should be isolated from others, particularly if the child is in day care with other children.

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Exercising faces

We all know that exercising is beneficial but generally think of whole body exercises or sport such as swimming, running, walking, or gym workouts. Did you know that exercising the face is beneficial too?

How many ways can you move your face? push lips forward as far as possible, draw them back as far as possible, move the forehead up and down, wriggle your nose, open and close your jaw , stick out the tongue, put it in and out quickly, wriggle it side to side, up and down, suck in the cheeks, puff them out. Move each part of your face several times. Children will love to do these exercises and they are a great way to start off a group activity in a child care setting. You may find there are children in the group who can't say some sounds correctly and the above exercises plus saying the sounds p, b, k, d, ch, s, f and th, will help children develop these. Use cards with a single setter on each and practise the sound a number of times. It won't be long before they recognise the name and the sound of the letters. It is the sound of the letter not its name that is important in these exercises.

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A Health report of concern

A picture of Australia's children 2009, a report that covers children 0-14 years, has both good and bad statistics about our kids. The good things are that

  • more children are surviving leukemia
  • asthma hospitalisation is down
  • there are fewer deaths from injury
  • fewer kids are smoking
  • immunisation rates are up
  • involvement in physical activities is satisfactory
  • births to teenagers are declining

However, there are also disturbing statistics.

  • Diet is poorer.
  • Teenage binge drinking is increasing
  • Indigenous kids are three times more likely to die.
  • Indigenous teenagers are five times more likely to have babies than other teens.
  • Kids in remote areas have more dental decay, higher death rates and lower literacy and numeracy skills than city children.

While there are more positive than negative statistics in this report, Australia is only ranking 21st out of 30 OECD countries for under-five child mortality. Parents, teachers, health personnel and kids themselves need to take action to improve many aspects of our kidís lifestyle.

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Children and screen time

The above report, A picture of Australia's children 2009 mentions that the recommended time for kids to spend in front of the TV or other screens, is no more than two hours. Two thirds of our kids are spending more than this concentrating on screens. Too much time in front of screens is bad for the eyes as well as bad for the posture of our kids. Parents must intervene as this situation is becoming worse as schools presenting more learning in an electronic way.

  • Teach your children stretching exercises to do after leaving the computer.
  • See that they have change close vision tasks and distance vision tasks often.
  • Alternate sitting and physically active games and tasks.
  • Set a good example yourself.

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Eating vegetables

Food is a theme for me this month. My four year old granddaughter has been a stubborn child when it comes to eating fruit and vegetable. The problem is now being solved. Mum is insisting that a small portion of every food the rest of the family eats each night, must be eaten, otherwise the exciting overseas trip at the end of the year, will be off. In only two weeks her

Only 3 per cent of four- to eight-year-olds in Australia, and 2 percent of children between nine and 13 eat their recommended daily two to four serves of vegetables, excluding  potatoes.

Why is this so?

  • Parents do not persist when introducing new foods to their toddlers.
  • Eating patterns are generally formed by the age of five and will be retained for life. So getting your child to eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables before this age is important.
  • The unborn baby whose mother eats many different foods will accept different tastes after birth more readily.
  • Tastes enter breast milk and this prepares children for a variety of tastes while formula is always the same.

Not only does eating fruit and vegetables keep obesity in check, but can contribute to the prevention of cancer.

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Keeping clean

Now its winter time it can be quite daunting even for adults to take off all ones clothes and shower or bath, although the thought of plenty of hot water helps. Make sure the children are washing as thoroughly as they do in the hot weather. Look at their clothes too and make sure they are changed regularly. The washing takes longer to dry, and sometimes a long spell of wet weather depletes the supply of clean clothes.

Classrooms in particular can be smelly places in winter if the windows are all shut. Shoes and socks are amongst the worst offenders especially if the kids have to take them off for music and movement or PE. Do the shoes at your place get washed or cleaned regularly? Sports shoes can usually be washed but can be really offensive to the nose. Airing shoes every day in fresh air or sun can help. Airing jumpers and coats is a good idea too. Smoke and cooking smells get into our clothes but the sun fixes the problem. Remember that clothes carry germs so even when articles still look clean, they may be harbouring nasty cold germs.

 I saw a new ad on TV the other day that showed someone vacuuming the mattress. Now thatís something I havenít done in a long time. Iíd better get busy. There must be months of invisible germs there even though the sheets are clean.

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Children with serious illnesses

Hope is a wonderful thing. It gives parents the strength to carry on when a child has a serious illness. People find hope in different ways. They find it in religion, in support groups, through searching on the internet, through TV, libraries, at schools and childcare facilities and through humour. Often it is the child who inspires parents, friends and relatives to overcome that feeling of desolation and aloneness when a serious illness is diagnosed.

Searching on the internet, I read about The Humour Foundation that has been operating in Australia since 1996. The Clown Doctors, who are part of the foundation, now bring some humour and hope into the lives of 100,000 people, mainly children, every year. A child in hospital may have many scary procedures. That is why the Clown Doctors are so successful. They understand what is happening to the children and know just how to distract them from procedures, from pain, from fear, by putting humour into the childís day. There are teams of clown doctors who visit many hospitals now and in time more and more sick children will benefit from this wonderful work. Donations will help. Here is the link: http://clowndoctors.org.au/

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Exercising in fresh air.

Iíve been reading about a family in which the children grew up loving the outdoors. They were thoroughly involved with farm life, feeding calves, rounding up sheep, riding horses, helping in the shearing shed, picking fruit and doing jobs in the garden. Each year they made jam and cakes to exhibit at the show as did other children in the neighbourhood. Now those children have their own families and are all based in the city.  I wonder what opportunities the new generation of children has for outdoor recreation?

We donít all have a good backyard near us but all kids need to get outdoors. Exercising in a gym cannot give the same results. People who live in high rise apartments or flats with small yards can take their children to parks, use cycleways, go to beaches, rivers and National Parks. Schools always have playing fields and if your kids are not involved in team games, make sure that they are still catered for in an innovative, creative and active way in the outdoors both during school hours and after.

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Drinking water

Adults know that drinking water is essential to good health. It is essential because

        60%of our bodies is made up of water 

        it carries nutrients to our body cells

        it flushes toxins out of the body

        it keeps our nose, throat and ears moist

Most health authorities say that although water needs vary from person to person, on the average we need about 8 cups of liquid a day. Not all this has to be water. Other drinks and many fruits and food contain water too.

What about children? As pre-schoolers they will probably get most of their water from milk which they need for calcium intake too.

        Babies have special requirements- follow baby health recommendations

        Children under 8 require 2 cups of milk a day 

        Children over 8 need 3cups a day

Juice for kids

        Kids under 6 require only Ĺ to ĺ of a cup of juice a day. Choose pure juice for this to limit sugar intake

        Older kids can have 1 to 2 cups per day.

We need water when weíve been exercising, if the weather is hot, if we are perspiring, if we are sick with a fever. If we feel very thirsty, we have already started to dehydrate. Remember it is our responsibility to see that our kids have fluids under these circumstances. Young children especially donít know when to drink. It is a good rule to have some drink with every meal.

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 Fit bodies help brains

Research at Wollongong university in Australia shows that children perform better at academic and cognitive tasks when they have physical exercise every day. Some schools have implemented thirty minutes of exercise first thing in the morning before formal lessons begin and have found children are more motivated and their concentration improves too. The Australian government is providing more money for organized school sport as a result of the research. Some of the money will go to after school sport so that children in after-school-care will benefit. It is important that children who go home from school, also get physical exercise at that time of day. Strenuous exercise like running, ball games, cycling, gymnastics and dancing will send blood to the brain as well as the body and help relaxation, remove stress, help coordination and give enjoyment.

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Keeping fit

The last Sunday in May I watched the ABC film about Cliffie Young who won the 1983 marathon run from Sydney to Melbourne. I remember his run and how surprised everyone was that a 61 year old could actually even complete the run let alone win it when most of those competing were less than half his age and held world class records. The film was fun to watch and really brought to life the story of the hare and the tortoise. I was interested as the credits went up at the end to learn that Cliffís shuffle style was adopted by many coaches following his win.

What about your family fitness? Do any of the folk at your house run or shuffle, dance to music at home, ride an exercise bike, walk smartly for half an hour or more daily, chop the wood, play tennis or table tennis? There are so many things one can do that cost little or nothing. Remember all the skipping you did as a child? Skipping is a great fitness builder but even a shuffle can build up the muscles in both body and mind.

Now that winter is starting it isnít so inviting to exercise every day as it may be frosty, foggy or even raining. Try to have an indoor alternative for cold damp weather but remember that it is important to have sun or outdoor time every day. Iíve just been looking at the amount of recommended sunshine that is necessary to keep up our vitamin D. In the southern states of Australia fair skinned people need about 25 minutes during winter, while dark skinned people need about 45 minutes a day. I expect one needs to increase that a bit if there is a lot of cloud about.

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Copyright 2008

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Fit Kids
Turn off the screens
Food for busy mothers
Food requirements
Dehydration
Damper
Healthy lunches for kids
Walking
Planning menus
Sick kids
Ten steps for healthy families
Deafness
Having enough sleep
The best time of year
Jamie Oliver in Australia
Grow your own food to beat price rises
Taking responsibility for family health
Exercising in autumn
Become a swapper
Exercising in fresh air
Drinking water
Fit bodies and fit brains
Keeping fit
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