Accommodating Special Diets at Cheeky Monkeys Day Nursery & Pre School.
Here at Cheeky Monkeys Day Nursery & Pre School we are aware that some children in our care have special dietary requirements. Food allergies, cultural and religious preferences, and vegetarian diets are common issues in a nursery setting and we work together with parents in order to ensure that children with special dietary needs receive appropriate foods.
We talk with Parents about Special Dietary Needs
Planning to accommodate a child’s special dietary needs would begin before the child is enrolled in our nursery. The key person would ask parents about food needs and family eating patterns when enrolling the child. Our Registration Form has a separate section for parents to inform us of their needs.
Details of the special dietary requirements are then passed to our kitchen where our cook then plans and arranges to provide the foods that meet the child’s special dietary needs and accommodate the child’s special diet.
Guidelines to Help our Nursery Handle Food Allergies
Food allergies are common in young children. Cow’s milk is a problem for some infants and young children. Other common allergens include wheat products, peanuts and eggs. Some young children also have trouble digesting high-fibre foods.
When a child with a food allergy ingests that food, they may have an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions range from mild skin sensitivity to very severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing. Because food allergies can be dangerous, or even life-threatening in some cases, the nursery must be aware of all allergies to the children in our care, again all this information is requested on our Registration Document.
Here are some guidelines which we cover on our Registration process, to use to manage food allergies in our child care setting:
- We discuss allergies with families when you first enrol your child. We ask about the allergy, when it was first identified, the likely signs of an allergic reaction, and the degree of sensitivity.
- We prepare for allergic reactions. We ask parents how an allergic reaction should be treated. Some allergic reactions require immediate emergency medical treatment; others that are milder may be treated with over-the-counter medications. Parents leave written instructions about how to handle an allergic reaction to specific foods on our Registration Document.
- Check labels carefully, and pay attention to ingredients that may cause allergic reactions. We are careful not to serve a food containing a certain ingredient to children who are allergic to that food. Some children who are allergic to certain foods may not be able to tolerate even the smallest amount used as an ingredient in other foods.
- All allergens are highlighted in yellow on our daily menu sheets.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Some children have such severe food allergies that indirect exposure can cause allergic reactions. A child with a peanut allergy may have a reaction if you use a knife on their sandwich that has been used to spread peanut butter, even if you rinse the knife first. Be sure to wash all utensils and food preparation surfaces carefully, and avoid reusing tools that have touched an allergen until they have been washed with hot water and soap and sanitized. If you have prepared food that contains an allergen, wash your hands carefully with soap and warm water before touching the child with an allergy.
- Consider prohibiting certain foods from the child care program. Some children have life-threatening allergies to certain foods. If a child’s allergy is severe, or there are several children with the same food allergy, we would prohibit that food in the child care setting to avoid the risk of allergic reactions.
- Here at Cheeky Monkeys Day Nursery we are a nut free environment as allergies to those foods can be severe or even life-threatening.
- All our staff are Epi-Pen and Paediatric First Aid trained.
- Packed Lunches are acceptable at the nursery if required.
Cultural or Religious Beliefs and Food Preferences
A family’s religious beliefs may prohibit certain foods or foods at certain times. When we discuss food preferences with our parents we ask about these special practices, and discuss with the parents the best ways to accommodate these dietary changes. Knowing families’ practices help us to accommodate your preferences in our child care facilities.
To ensure the child feels included in the environment certain foods that reflect their cultural background we would include some of these foods in our weekly menus, both to help children from that culture feel more comfortable, and to introduce other children in our setting to these foods that are part of their classmate’s culture. We would explain what these foods are, and tell them a little about the cultural background or practices that include the foods.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescetarian Diets in Nursery
Families who follow a vegetarian diet may request that vegetarian meals for their children. Vegetarian diets vary from family to family. Some children may eat poultry and fish but avoid red meat. Others may avoid all meats but eat dairy products and eggs. Still others may avoid eating all animal-based products. Our management team would discuss the specific vegetarian diet with the parents, and decide how to accommodate the child’s needs. If the menus cannot be changed completely, we would make substitutions for children who do not eat meat or other animal products.
An example of our menu would be provided at the initial application stage.
If you have any questions or require any clarification please do not hesitate to contact any of the branch managers who would be pleased to assist you.
I hope this document has been useful and we look forward to welcoming you to our nursery.
Stephen R Hall
Business Development Manager