As your child grows older, it’s only natural they’ll want to gain greater autonomy and start feeding themselves. In fact, you can start the ball rolling at around just six months old, with baby led weaning.
However, if you’re a new parent and you’re wondering how to feed your toddler safely – especially if they’re starting to feed themselves – there are a few things to bear in mind.
Okay, we know that food safety and hygiene might not be the most thrilling of subjects, especially for toddlers. So, if you’re trying to impress the importance of it upon them, you’ll need some fun activities to make hygiene cooler!
However, food safety for toddlers and hygiene are non-negotiables – particularly for us here at Little Angels – and we know that many of our parents and guardians feel the same.
With that in mind, let’s look at how to make sure you have all your bases covered when it comes to feeding your child safely.
How to Feed Your Toddler Safely
Many of these tips might feel like common sense – which they are – but it’s always worth repeating, especially if you’re a stickler for hygiene like we are!
1. Wash Big and Little Hands Before Preparing and Eating
It probably goes without saying that washing your hands before preparing food is a given. But it’s also important to get your toddler into the habit of washing their hands before eating too.
This is where you can lead by example and make a show of washing your own hands before you sit down to eat together.
Try making it a fun activity too, especially if you’re met with sticky-fingered resistance. Singing a nursery rhyme will keep hand washing from becoming a chore and will also ensure that those little hands spend enough time under the tap!
2. Wash Food and Ingredients Before Preparing
Another no-brainer, we know. But this is something else we’re rather fastidious about at Little Angels and our on-site chef serves the children in our care with freshly prepared, organic, healthy snacks and meals throughout their day.
We prioritise hygiene in our kitchens and ensure that each and every one of the yummy, nutritious
ingredients that goes into our dishes is washed (if appropriate) and cooked and served safely
After all, we want to eat clean and safely prepared meals and we believe that food safety for toddlers should be top of the agenda too.
3. Watch Out for Choking Hazards
Probably the biggest food safety for toddlers pointer is to make sure the food on their plate is cut up into manageable pieces to avoid the possibility of choking. This is especially crucial if they’re feeding themself and have the potential to shove a fistful of food into their mouths before you can stop them!
Anything that could cause a choking hazard should have particular attention paid to it. Round, smooth food items can be a concern, so for example, cut foods such as grapes, meatballs and cherry tomatoes in half or even quarters before serving.
Also avoid small hard items such as nuts as these are all too easy to choke on. There’s no need for your child to miss out on the nutritional value of nuts though – they can be blended or chopped before being added to meals instead.
4. Keep an Eye Out for Allergies
Most parents and guardians would agree that making sure their toddler has an enquiring palate and is open to trying new foods is important, but you do need to watch out for potential allergies.
Knowing how to feed your toddler safely isn’t just about choking hazards, it’s also about knowing how to protect them from the potential side effects of certain foods.
Peanuts are the obvious culprit, although some studies suggest that the earlier your child is exposed to peanuts, the less likely they are to develop an allergy. However, we strongly advocate talking to your family doctor or paediatrician if you have any doubts.
At Little Angels, we’re very conscious of food cross-contamination for both allergic and hygienic reasons. This is why we wipe down all surfaces before eating and wash each child’s hands throughout the day including prior to meals and after playing outside.
5. Protect Against Pets
We know you love your furry friend, and as adults a lot of us don’t think twice about giving them a kiss on the nose or doling out a quick pat or stoke while we’re in the kitchen, but if you want to know how to feed your toddler safely, which of course you do, you need to exercise a little control around your four legged friend at meal times.
Babies and toddlers are more susceptible to food poisoning and bacteria than us adults and care should be taken accordingly.
Teach your little one to wash their hands after playing wth or petting your animals before eating and keep animals that can jump and that love to eat (we’re looking at you cats and dogs!) away from surfaces and food at all times.
6. Ensure Food is Properly Cooked
When it comes to food safety for toddlers, you know that you can’t serve your child piping hot food, but you do need to make sure that all food is cooked thoroughly and then given time to cool down until it’s lukewarm before you give it to your child.
On a similar note, we know it can be tempting to do so, especially as food waste is currently such a concern, but we advise against saving and reheating meals that your child has half eaten and abandoned.
This is NHS-mandated advice so we really do believe that this is also an important step to follow in the interests of feeding your toddler safely.
Food Safety for Toddlers at Little Angels
We think you’d be hard pushed to find a nursery that takes food safety for toddlers more seriously than we do at Little Angels!
We’ve already told you about our experienced chef, but, of course, we also make sure that the utmost care is taken when we prepare our meals. All food is cut into small pieces so that your child is able to eat enjoyably and safely and develop a healthy relationship to food and eating.
Our strict internal procedures also include knowing how to feed your toddler safely such as not serving whole grapes or cherry tomatoes or any other food that could cause choking.
In addition to this, our nursery received a 5 out of 5-star Food Hygiene Rating from the Southwark Council and Food Standards Agency – something we are justifiably proud of.
Want to find out more about how we help your little one flourish and grow in our caring and safe environment? Download our brochure today.