Promote healthy nutrition with children, families and staff at your program. Examine the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website. Use their toolkit with individual files such as 20 Health Tips. See Smart Snacking Tips for Kids.

The Early Childhood Education Linkage System (ECELS) websiteoffers resources to promote healthy nutrition. Explore valuable options in the Child Care Health Consultant Toolkit- Obesity Prevention, for example: Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters (one minute video and resources). Use Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th Ed. to revise/develop policies and practices to support improved nutrition, breastfeeding, physical activity and screen time. Contact ECELS at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Use the Healthy Kids, Healthy Future resources. Review the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self- Assessment for Child Care (Go NAP SACC). Based on your assessment, develop an action plan to make improvements. Share these nutrition tips for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with families from the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC). Encourage small changes to improve healthy eating and habits. 

Help fight hunger in PA. Visit DHS’ Ending Hunger webpages - a resource for food security in Pennsylvania. Click on the link to find a food pantry or view the network of food banks in PA. 5/21 

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.

In a June 2011 report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended obesity control measures for children in 5 areas:
1. Growth Monitoring
2. Physical Activity
3. Healthy Eating
4. Limiting Screen Time and Marketing Exposure for Children
5. Sufficient Sleep

  • Benefits of Child Care Programs–New Evidence
  • Nutrition Tips from USDA
  • Laundry Safety
  • Anaphylaxis – What is it?
  • Child Abuse and Neglect , Clearance, Training and Reporting
  • Developmentally Appropriate Practice - Freebies from the CDC
  • Active Play Self-Learning Module—NEW
  • Gluten Free – Disease Prevention or Fad?
  • Animal Visits
  • Transitions: Hand Washing to Eating
  • Autism Resources
  • Mold and Moisture
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers: Help parents form positive parent-child relationships
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-Are We Doing All We Can?
  • Food Preparation Techniques for Tasty & Healthful School Meals
  • Diaper Rash Prevention and Management
  • Staff Health Risk in Pregnancy

Stay Safe in Hot Weather

Extreme heat can make children sick in many ways, including dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

It is possible to safely participate in outdoor activities during the summer heat. To help protect kids from heat illness::

  • Stay hydrated
  • Dress lightly
  • Provide shade in play areas
  • Plan for extra rest time
  • Cool off
  • Prevent the effects of sun exposure

Weather monitoring resources:
Staff can use the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Child Care Weather Watch resource to help understand words used in weather forecast. This resource, along with local forecasts, can help staff monitor the temperature, humidity, and air quality. To stay up to date on current conditions: https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/Files/HCCI/weatherwatch.pdf

Check the Air Quality Index at http://airnow.gov and subscribe to EnviroFlash. This service from the US Environmental Protection Agency and state/local environmental agencies provides daily emails with information about local air quality. Poor air quality can negatively affect children with asthma and other special health care needs.
Check the forecast for the UV Index at https://www.epa.gov/enviro/uv-index-overview to limit exposure to the sun on days when the Index is high.

Sign up to receive hourly weather forecasts from the National Weather Service on a computer or mobile phone. The National Weather Service (NWS) provides up-to-date weather information on all advisories and warnings. It also provides safety tips for caregivers/teachers to use as a tool in determining when weather conditions are comfortable for outdoor play. www.nws.noaa.gov/om/heat/index.shtml

Stay hydrated

Encourage children to drink water regularly and have it readily available—even before they ask for it.

Infants: On hot days, infants receiving breast milk in a bottle can be given additional breast milk in a bottle, but they should not be given water—especially in the first six months of life. Infants receiving formula can be given additional formula in a bottle.
Toddlers and preschool children: Provide regularly scheduled water breaks to encourage all children to drink during active play, even if they don’t feel thirsty. Fluoridated water (bottled or from the faucet) can reduce the risk of early childhood caries and is the best drink choice for young children in between meals.


Sources: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Protecting-Children-from-Extreme-Heat-Information-for-Parents.aspx

CFOC Standards: https://nrckids.org/CFOC/Database/4.2.0.6

https://nrckids.org/CFOC/Database/6.1.0.7

https://nrckids.org/CFOC/Database/3.1.3.2

National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/NCECHW/Pages/National-Center-on-Early-Childhood-Health-and-Wellness.aspx

Posted 8/10/2021

Early educators have a vital role in the lives of children. What teachers/caregivers do can directly impact each child’s health and wellbeing. Teachers need the knowledge, skills and tools to meet this awesome responsibility! ECELS recently revised three self-learning modules so they are now updated and easy-to-use in online or print formats:

Each module meets STAR Level 2 Performance Standards for Health and Safety and provides 2 hours of professional development credit. See the brief overview of each module below, click on the active link above or go to the ECELS website at www.ecels-healthychildcarepa.org Select the Professional Development/Training tab at the top of the page, then Self-Learning Modules. Find the one you want to use in the alphabetical listing of the more than 30 Self-Learning Modules that ECELS offers.

scream boy pg 6

ECELS is collecting transition ideas. How do you get all the children's hands washed, and keep their hands clean until they sit together to eat? Without a sink for every child to wash at the same time, what activities do you use for children who wash first to wait for those who wash last? Send your favorite ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax them to 484-446-3255. We hope to collect good ideas to share in an upcoming issue of Health Link Online or as a Health Capsule.

The approaches you use are likely to differ for toddlers, preschoolers and school age children. You may have a routine transition or a collection of different approaches you use.

Team Nutrition is an initiative of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to support the Child Nutrition Programs through training and technical assistance for foodservice, nutrition education for children and their caregivers, and school and community support for healthy eating and physical activity. The  Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children: Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program on this website has excellent tip sheets with clear and well-illustrated ideas to use every day and on special occasions too. The two Appendices were updated in January 2013 and are excellent, brief guides for preventing choking and caring for children with food allergies.  2/18/2013

This government agency, USDA FNS manages many key nutrition assistance programs that support all Americans as well as special groups. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is the largest source of subsidy to child care operations by paying for food served to eligible children.  From the home page, select the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and then centers or family child care homes. Use this portal for information about the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program and other USDA food support programs also. 12/2012

ChooseMyPlate.gov

The ChooseMyPlate website has reliable nutrition advice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can sign up for regular email information at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. The December 10, 2014 ChooseMyPlate email was about whole grains. The suggestions are good for families and for early educators too.