Updated nutritional guidance ‘crucial’ to child development
Official guidance on children’s diets has been extended to include babies under one.
‘Setting the Table’, a new document for all childcare providers in Scotland, highlights the importance of nutrition in the early years and the role that nurseries and child minders have in shaping both current and future eating patterns in young children. It is currently being distributed to every provider in Scotland, in both the public and private sectors.
The new section on infants from birth to one aims to offer helpful advice on topics such as breastfeeding, formula feeding, weaning, and menu planning for babies.
NHS Health Scotland, the specialist health board to address inequalities in health, said the advice included guidance on meeting the needs of all children including those with special dietary requirements or religious beliefs, up to the age of 16.
Fiona Bayne of NHS Health Scotland said nutrition was crucial to development. “Providing healthy and nutritionally balanced meals and snacks in childcare settings is hugely important in meeting the needs of vulnerable families. Some children in full-time care will receive as much as 90 per cent of their daily food within a childcare setting, and up to 40 per cent for those who attend part time.”
Annette Bruton, chief executive of scrutiny body the Care Inspectorate, said the new guidance was “significant” because “it now provides a singular resource for all early years childcare professionals and providers”.
Acting Scottish Government Minister for Children Fiona McLeod said: “The early years are some of the most important years of a child’s life and supporting childcare providers is one of the ways we can help ensure Scotland’s children get the best start in life. We know that eating habits developed in the early years frequently last into adulthood, so childcare providers have an early opportunity to support the development of positive food habits from a very early age.”
It is hoped parents and foster carers will also download the advice from the NHS Health Scotland website.
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