Children at nurseries in Gwynedd and Anglesey are benefitting from a nutrition scheme developed and delivered by dietitians.
Both nurseries have now received their ‘Tiny Tums’ best practice award which recognises settings that have completed training and whose menus and food policies meet Welsh Government guidelines on food and drink provision for the early years.
Beverley Fisher, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Public Health Dietitian for Gwynedd and Anglesey, said: “Attitudes towards food choice develop at an early age and play an important role in the eating habits of adults and the health of our future generations.
“Pre-school environments are an ideal place to introduce children to healthy foods because newly tasted foods are more likely to be accepted by children 2-4 years old compared to later in life.
“We aim to support local settings to make the healthy choice the easiest choice for children living in North Wales.”
Donna Maria Ojemeyi, who is the owner of Meithrinfa Hen Ysgol in Porthmadog, said the healthier menu has been a huge success with the children.
She said: “The kids absolutely love the menu we have at the nursery, we make everything from scratch and make sure they have their five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
“We’ve had lots of support from the dietitians at the Health Board, they have come down to see us and will go through the menu and to discuss ideas which has been really helpful.
“The Tiny Tums programme made me realise what exactly is in the food we eat, such as the salt and sugar levels.
“Having this extra information and support from the dietitians helped us to create a menu which provides the nutrition that young children need, even including foods such as oily fish which can be sometimes hard to get children to eat.”
Sioned Hughes, who is the owner of Siwgr Plwm Nursery, says introducing their own vegetable garden has encouraged the children to try new food.
She said: “We have our own vegetable patch where the children can go out and pick their vegetables, they are particular fond of the courgettes!
“Meal times are now a lot more exciting for them as they get to see where some of the food they are eating has come from and they’ve been able to pick it themselves.
“The Tiny Tums programme is fantastic, we have learnt so much from the course and would encourage other nurseries across the area to take part in it.
“It’s so important to promote healthy eating at an early age, we were lucky to have the support of the dietitians at the health board and CarlaDesmond at Anglesey Council to make sure we could prepare an excellent healthy menu for our children.”
Beverley said she is impressed with the commitment she has seen to provide the highest standard of nutrition for children in both of these nurseries.
“It is a pleasure to work with nurseries that make the commitment to provide the highest standards of nutrition for children’s health and wellbeing and we have a growing number of Tiny Tums accredited settings across Gwynedd and Anglesey.
“I encourage nursery staff, childminders and playgroup leaders to join in with our training and consider working towards the Tiny Tums best practice certificate,” she added.