These days, more and more childcare centres are turning to plant-based menus. That's great for parents who already feed their children vegetarian and vegan diets, but what if you're a meat-eating family? If you've found a centre that offers an outstanding quality of care, you may not want to turn it down simply because meat is off the menu. Of course, that won't stop you from feeling dubious. If you're on the fence about sending your child to a plant-based childcare environment, here are three reassuring questions to ask the centre leaders.
"How do you make sure the diet is balanced?"
For any parent who usually feeds their child meat, the biggest worry with a vegan or vegetarian childcare centre is whether the diet will be well-balanced and nutritious. After all, meat is essential for protein and dairy is essential for calcium, right? Well, the truth is that while meat and dairy are great sources of nutrition, they're not the only ones. Ground seeds, nut butters, beans, lentils and soya products like tofu can all provide great sources of protein. Calcium can also come from fortified plant-based milks, beans and lentils, green leafy vegetables and even bread. Other essential nutrients like vitamin B12, iodine, iron and omega-3 can all be found in plants too. Asking the childcare centre how they make the menu cover all food groups and nutrients will definitely help reassure you that the menu is healthy.
"How will I know my child is eating well?"
Of course, no matter how healthy the menu is, it's no good if your child won't eat it. If your little one is more of a fussy eater who prefers chicken nuggets to broccoli, this can be a particularly big concern when using a vegan or vegetarian childcare centre. So, don't hesitate to ask the leaders how they'll keep you informed of how much your child is eating. These days, many modern centres use apps to update parents with what the children are eating and how much each child ate in real-time. This gives you peace of mind that your child isn't going hungry during the day.
"How can I make this food at home?"
Finally, there's always the chance that your child will get used to the vegetarian or vegan meals they eat at daycare and want to eat them at home too. That's why you should ask your chosen childcare centre whether they share the recipes they use to prepare their meals. You may even find that the whole family can enjoy those plant-based meals a few times a week, saving you money and helping you cut down on some of the less healthy meat options.
To learn more about the food at child care centres, contact child care centres in your area.
We have the trickiest time finding childcare for our baby, as we both do shift work. My husband is a police officer, and I'm a doctor, so we always seem to struggling to get someone to look after our son when we are at work at nights. We want to know that he is being loved and cared for even when we are not there. Luckily we have a great childcare service that is flexible, and sometimes we can leave our son longer if we need to work later or if emergencies arise. This blog is about juggling childcare for shift workers.