The National Center on Health offers visually attractive, simply stated resources for infant, toddler and preschool care. Anyone can down-load the electronic copies from the Internet. Head Start programs can order hard copy from the National Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. These materials have excellent content for teachers/caregivers to use in their programs and to share with families:

Growing Healthy Flipcharts http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health/healthy-active-living/HAL_Resources/NCHEnglishFlipChartF011514_7-7final508.pdf

Take a look at the National Center’s Health Tips (Fact Sheets) for Families* (and teachers): Download an individual one page fact sheets when you need a handout on one of the topics or download the complete series in English [PDF, 1.2MB] and Spanish (español) [PDF, 309KB]* The following topic are available as handouts:

Active Play includes tips to help infants, toddlers and preschoolers develop positive active play behaviors.

Health Literacy provides information about how to understand and use health information that doctors and other health professionals give.

Healthy Breathing provides information about eliminating first-hand, second-hand and third-hand exposure to tobacco smoke.

Healthy Eating offers easy tips to help infants, toddlers and preschool-age children learn healthy eating.

Mental Health provides information about how to help infants, toddlers and preschoolers develop positive mental health behaviors.

Oral Health offers tips to promote oral health in infancy through preschool age.

Safety and Injury Prevention: Tips for Families (2 pages) provides easy tips families can use to ensure their children's health and safety at home, outside, in the water, and in a car or truck.

Dealing with Stress is a 4 page guide with simply stated, clear tips to help cope with stress in a healthy way.

*http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health/health-literacy-family-engagement/family-education/tipsheetfamily.htm

Use the USDA website links in this article to help staff and families focus on individual nutrition ideas. Invite families to use the web links to plan how they feed their children at home.  Look at all these and more on the USDA website at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Snack Ideas from each food group:  grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, protein, and combinations of two or more food groups. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/healthy-habits/snack-ideas.html%20

This workshop addresses national and state initiatives to reduce obesity among children in group care. It includes nutritional needs of infants, toddlers, preschool  and school age children. Participants learn how to adjust portion sizes, and evaluate food and nutrition labeling.  The discussion includes comparing the standards for physical activity and limitation of sedentary activities with current practices. The participants learn how to use research about how children acquire attitudes about food and physical activity. They identify nutrition education opportunities at mealtimes, snacks, holidays and birthdays.

 The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care has separately published the nutrition, physcial activity and screen time standards from Caring for Our Children. View these obesity prevention standards on the website of the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care.

Obesity is epidemic in the United States. Preventing obesity starts in early childhood. Learning life skills for physical activity and nutrition are key. ECELS has an online self-learning module to teach users to evaluate their program’s physical activity and nutrition practices and polices for 3 to 5 year old children. The module includes a self-assessment and development of an action plan for program improvement as well as many other resources.

Early education and child care professionals should include preventive practices in the curriculum. In addition, early educators have many opportunities to notice possible areas of decay on children’s teeth. Coupling prevention and early recognition of possible trouble with referral to an oral health professional can save significant suffering. Early decay looks like dull white bands on the smooth surface of the tooth at the gum line. It is caused by bacterial activity in the mouth. It is a form of infectious disease. Early decay may be reversible with fluoride treatment and removal of plaque that builds up on the teeth. If this early decay is not treated, it becomes yellow, brown or black spots. These spots are places where decay destroyed the tooth enamel. If you see chalky white spots or discoloration on a child's teeth, urge the child's family to take the child to a dentist as soon as possible.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a food label to tell consumers that the producer of the food meets certain standards. Some multi-ingredient products with USDA Organic labels specify which ingredients have been certified organic according to the USDA standards. The standard for use of the USDA Organic label requires that the producer not use synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering. To enforce the standards, the USDA inspects the production of foods that use the label.

Food labeled USDA Organic may or may not be healthful. There is no evidence that foods are necessarily less healthful if grown with synthetic fertilizers or properly aged sewage sludge. Irradiation of food kills germs. No radiation remains in the foods. Foods produced by genetic engineering may grow better and produce quality product sooner than if the producer waited to select plants from natural mutations. How a food is grown and packaged is not the only way to decide whether the food is healthful. The time between picking and selling foods can affect the quality of any food. Contamination or improper storage of any food may occur on the way from harvest to the seller.

Seize this great opportunity to improve nutrition for children in your care. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Team Nutrition recently released 30 award-winning recipes. They were picked from those submitted to the nationalRecipes for Healthy Kids Competition. All recipes are child-tested and child-approved, using only healthy ingredients.  They feature Child Care and Adult Food Program (CACFP) foods. All of the recipes are low in total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. Use them with the Crediting Handbook to easily document for CACFP. 

Children who eat more salty foods also drink more sweetened beverages. Children who drink more than one sugar-containing beverage per day are 26% more likely to be overweight or obese. These findings are from a study that enrolled over 4,200 Australian children. The study findings are in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Adults know that electronic gadgets with screens entertain young children. Handing a cell phone to a child in a grocery store can make shopping easier. However, adults should focus learning with language rich, socially interactive opportunities for the child to learn about what is in the store.

Screen experiences from TV, smartphones, computers and tablets do not promote personality development. Real world social interactions are necessary. Screen devices substitute viewing images for exploration of the environment. While children can learn something from what they see and hear on screen devices, they learn more easily from interactions with people and objects they can see, touch and manipulate. The bottom line is that screen time for young children should be limited to provide more opportunity for play and learning in the real world. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children less than 2 years of age should have NO screen time.*

Zero-to-Three published guidelines for use of screen devices in 2014.** The guidelines reviewed the research findings, the implications and limits to place on use of screen devices. For example, Zero-to-Three reported that, on average, children less than 3 years old are exposed to more than 5 hours of background TV. This exposure has a negative effect on the children’s development of language and other brain functions. It reduces the quality and quantity of play that is vital to learning.