Question: What determines whether a food is a fruit or a vegetable?  

Answer: Fruits are the part of a plant that has seeds. Vegetables are the edible portion of a plant such as roots (carrots), leaves (lettuce), stems (celery) or flowers (broccoli). They are usually from a plant with a soft (not woody) stem.

See Managing Chronic Health Needs in Child Care and Schools, 2nd Edition available from the bookstore of the American Academy of Pediatrics at https://shop.aap.org or search www.healthychildren.org for more information. In PA, please send your health and safety request with your name and phone number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A study in the August 2018 issue of Pediatrics, "The Nutritional Quality of Gluten-Free Products for Children," examined the nutritional content of gluten-free products marketed specifically to children. The research showed that products labeled gluten-free are not nutritionally better compared to "regular" children's foods (those without a gluten free claim). In addition, many of the gluten-free foods for children had less protein, high sugar levels, and were of poor nutritional quality due to high levels of sugar, sodium, and/or fat.

The Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC) project at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention is now “Go NAP SACC.” Go NAP SACC features an interactive website. Look there for resources for children from birth – 5 years, a focus on breastfeeding and infant feeding, screen time, and outdoor play. Go NAP SACC can be adapted for different child care settings, including family child care homes. The Go NAP SACC website, found at www.gonapsacc.org, gives technical assistance professionals self-assessments and tools. You can follow Go NAP SACC on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GoNAPSACC) and Twitter. Reviewed and reaffirmed 3/2018.

Brochure that describes the role of a sanitarian or food safety consultant for early education and child care programs. Reviewed and reaffirmed 11/2012

Staying up-to-date with immunizations provides the best protection against disease and is essential to health. Getting vaccinations on time is still important during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial that everyone—children, staff and parents—receive their regularly scheduled vaccines.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and guardians should schedule immunization appointments early. Some health care providers may have delays in scheduling and decreased appointment windows. Health care providers are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of patients, families, and staff. Call your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about a scheduled well-child visit or immunizations in general. The Pennsylvania Departments of Education, Health, Human Services, and Insurance remind parents to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date as part of back-to-school preparations.

Early Childhood Education staff should make immunization a priority. Foster an environment of health with:

  • Immunization tracking
  • Staff education and adult vaccination as needed
  • Parent education

Unvaccinated children are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others. Babies are at high risk since they are too young to be fully vaccinated. Un- and under-vaccinated people are a threat to children and adults who might not be able to receive certain vaccines due to other health conditions. Children who are not up-to-date with vaccines recommended for their age may be excluded from child care and schools if an outbreak occurs.

For more information to educate staff and parents, visit the following websites - 

 National Immunization Awareness Month (August)       

Staying up-to-date with immunizations provides the best protection against disease and is essential to health. Getting vaccinations on time is still important during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial that everyone—children, staff and parents—receive their regularly scheduled vaccines.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and guardians should schedule immunization appointments early. Some health care providers may have delays in scheduling and decreased appointment windows. Health care providers are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of patients, families, and staff. Call your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about a scheduled well-child visit or immunizations in general. The Pennsylvania Departments of Education, Health, Human Services, and Insurance remind parents to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date as part of back-to-school preparations.

Early Childhood Education staff should make immunization a priority. Foster an environment of health with:

  • Immunization tracking
  • Staff education and adult vaccination as needed
  • Parent education

Unvaccinated children are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others. Babies are at high risk since they are too young to be fully vaccinated. Un- and under-vaccinated people are a threat to children and adults who might not be able to receive certain vaccines due to other health conditions. Children who are not up-to-date with vaccines recommended for their age may be excluded from child care and schools if an outbreak occurs.

For more information to educate staff and parents, visit the following websites:

PA Partnerships for Children Fact Sheet - Pediatric Visits and Childhood Immunizations: Getting PA Kids Back in School and Back on Schedule (August 2021):  https://www.papartnerships.org/report/fact-sheet-pediatric-visits-and-childhood-immunizations-getting-pa-kids-back-in-school-and-back-on-schedule-august-2021/

Posted 8/2021

This workshop enables the user to learn how to assess health and safety practices in programs for infants and toddlers in conjunction with use of the ITERS assessment tool. Discuss feeding, diapering, sleeping, fostering early brain development, managing illness and more. Use the assessment to make improvements in the program. 

The PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics published the 5th edition of Model Child Care Health Policies in October 2013. Significantly revised and updated, the new edition is a practical tool for adoption and implementation of best practices for health and safety in group care settings for young children. This edition replaces the previously published version and updates of individual policies that were posted on the ECELS website. ECELS encourages early education and child care professionals to adapt the model policies as site-specific documents that fit their programs. Two formats are available: one replicates the hard copy publication. The other format, posted 12-12-2014, has form fields that allow users to insert their site-specific details directly into the PDF document.

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.

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.