Ms. Khadija Niazi, CreaKids By Dibber Al Barsha South 2 Branch Manager
Starting the first day with the right food in your child’s lunch box is essential as it helps to get the children excited for this new transition. During your child’s settling-in period, it is so important for children to have some levels of continuity in their routine as they are going to be introduced to many other changes and food does not need to be one of them. One thing that can be a source of familiarity is their lunch box, which can have their favourite things in especially for the first few weeks. This helps them to look forward to snack and lunch time during their day at the nursery. Introducing new foods and textures can wait till they are more eager to explore, even as they see their friends snacking and show interests in other food items.
Children need to be encouraged to learn more about where their food is coming from and how it gets to be the final product that goes to their tummies. This means that parents and practitioners need to make them a more active part of the process. This includes buying their lunch boxes from the shop and talking about the practicalities of what may go in it, going to the grocery store and for the slightly older ones even helping to make their own lunch- sandwiches, fruit salads, filling up their water bottles and so many other ways in which we can involve children to learn basic life skills that help them master skills for life. As you prepare lunch talk about healthy and unhealthy choices, where the food comes from, our likes and dislikes.
Parents and children alike need to be excited about eating healthy and most nurseries have a healthy eating policy also that encourages children to not only have a balanced diet but also make it into a social event. This is where children and teachers alike sit together, eat, talk about what they have, where the food comes from and generally become more independent as they learn to open their boxes, throw their waste and clean up after themselves.
An easy and effective way to ensure that our children eat healthy and nutritious foods, especially at their time in the nursery is by using the lunchbox builder – see below. It tells you the possibilities of what and how you can put in your child’s lunchbox to balance their nutrition needs.
One very important factor when preparing your child’s lunchbox is to always be mindful of not only their allergies but the school food policy (no nuts in any form). Kindness goes a long way and we know that nuts can cause serious reactions in some children even when only exposed to them in their environment. Separating children can cause them to feel excluded during such an essential part of the day which should be a moment when the whole class comes together.
Being hydrated is extremely important. Always send in a full bottle of water for your child, even if you are also sending a milk box or a juice box along. There is no substitute for water and children should always be encouraged to drink more and stay hydrated throughout the day, especially in Dubai!