Children grow and develop quickly. They need good nutrition to support healthy growth and development. In addition to providing nourishment, mealtimes provide a social time for children and caregivers to talk and learn from each other. These early experiences with eating can have a lasting impact on children’s future eating habits and attitudes about food.
All infants and children attending child care centres in Ontario must be provided with enough safe and nutritious food to meet their individual energy and nutrient requirements (Child Care and Early Years Act O. Reg. 137/15).
Refer to the nutrition sections (42-44) of O. Reg. 137/15 for a detailed explanation of the requirements related to feeding. For example:
Dietitians of Canada partners with other health professional organizations and Health Canada to develop evidence-based guidance on feeding infants and toddlers.
Of particular relevance to child care providers is Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants from 6 to 24 months (2014), published by Health Canada, developed jointly by Dietitians of Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. A few key principles and recommendations include:
Child care centres play an important role in supporting a family' s decision to provide breastmilk for their child. Demonstrate support to breastfeeding families by:
Warm breastmilk by placing under warm running water or in a bowl of warm water for no longer than 15 minutes. Swirl the bottle to evenly heat. The milk should feel slightly warm, not hot. Throw away any breastmilk a child does not finish within two hours or that has been thawed for longer than 24 hours. Thawed breastmilk may look blue, yellow, or brown with fatty layers.
Fresh milk can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days, while thawed milk can be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours. It can take up to 12 hours to thaw in the fridge, or it can be placed directly from the freezer under cool then warm running water. Breastmilk can be kept in the freezer for six to 12 months.
The Canadian Paediatric Society provides the following guidelines when handling expressed breastmilk in child care centres:
If a breastmilk error occurs, contact the Infectious Disease Program at Public Health at 905-688-8248 ext. 7330 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7330. For infants receiving breastmilk substitutes, follow the steps to safely prepare infant formula.
The Ontario Dietitians in Public Health have created child care nutrition resources to support child care providers in planning and preparing healthy food for children (one year of age and older) in their care.
They reflect current best practices for creating supportive nutrition environments in child care settings and will help child care providers meet the food and drink requirements set out in section 42 of the CCEYA O. Reg. 137/15. They include:
Menu Planning and Supportive Nutrition Environments Practical Guide
Includes information for child care providers on menu planning, food and beverages that should be served, appropriate portion sizes for different age groups, sample menus and templates as well as strategies to create a supportive nutrition environment.
Menu and Nutrition Environment Self-assessment Tool
Helps child care cooks, chefs and providers assess their menus to meet the food and drink requirements in section 42 the CCEYA O. Reg. 137/15.
Paint Your Plate Vegetables and Fruit Toolkit
Fun and engaging ideas to make it easier for young children in your care to enjoy vegetables and fruit, as well as seasonal menus, factsheets, posters, sample policies and tips for sharing the Paint Your Plate message with families.
Online learning modules
For operators, supervisors, cooks and staff in child care settings to understand and apply the nutrition recommendations outlined in the Menu Planning and Supportive Nutrition Environments in Child Care Settings Practical Guide.
January marked the launch of Canada’s new Food Guide. It is no longer a one-size-fits-all print document, but is now a web application that provides information and up-to-date advice on eating well. New resources include:
It recognizes the importance of:
It recommends making it a habit to eat a variety of healthy foods each day:
It recognizes that healthy eating is more than the foods we eat:
Many changes in the new food guide align with the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health’s Menu Planning and Supportive Nutrition Environments in Child Care Settings Practical Guide:
|The new Canada’s Food Guide||The Practical Guide|
|Advises limiting foods high in saturated fat, sodium and sugar||Categorizes foods high in saturated fat, sodium and sugar as “Do Not Serve”|
|No longer includes fruit juice and flavoured milks||No longer includes fruit juice and flavoured milks Categorizes fruit juice and flavoured milks as ‘Do Not Serve’|
|Emphasizes drinking water||Advises that water should be available at all times|
|Highlights the importance of how to eat, not just what to eat (e.g. enjoying food, eating with others, cooking more often)||Aligns with Section 7: Strategies to Create a Supportive Nutrition Environment|
Later in 2019, Health Canada will be releasing guidance for institutions and settings that are involved with purchasing, preparing and serving food (e.g. child care, long-term care, etc.).
The Ministry of Education supports child care settings in using the Practical Guide from the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health for menu planning.
The Dietitians of Canada website, UnlockFood.ca includes hundreds of articles on healthy eating topics, recipes, menu plans, videos, interactive tools, as well as help in finding a dietitian.
You can also speak to a:
Registered Dietitian at Telehealth Ontario
1-866-797-0000 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Public Health Nurse at Niagara Parents
905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7555 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
Email Niagara Parents
Last updated: Sept. 30, 2019