The A-Z of Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant

The NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children.It is so important to avoid feeding a baby or toddler anything that could be detrimental to their health. So, once infants are weaning off milk and eating solids, vigilance and care is needed over every food choice. Allergens aside (we’ll cover those in a separate, future post), the NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children. Such foods are on the ‘avoid’ list usually because they contain one or more of the following three ingredients, although there are also others to look out for, as you’ll see.

  1. Too much salt. This is bad for babies’ kidneys, which have not finished developing. It can also raise blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. According to the NHS, babies under 1 should have less than 1g of salt per day and this will usually be achieved through milk intake, so none should be added. Children aged between 1 and 3 should only eat a maximum of 2g of salt per day (0.8g of sodium). For 4 to 6-year-olds it can increase to 3g of salt per day (1.2g of sodium).
  2. The NHS's Food Scanner phone app is available free.Added sugar. Infants do not need this. If added, it may increase instances of tooth decay, unhealthy weight issues, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. With children typically consuming more than twice as much sugar as is recommended, it is a real issue. The NHS’s sugar calculator can help when preparing food for infants, or alternatively use their Food Scanner app to find healthier food choices (click the yellow graphic to download).
  3. Saturated fats. These can raise levels of cholesterol and increase the risk of getting heart disease.

Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant

In alphabetical order, foods that the NHS warns parents to avoid feeding babies and infants include:

Food TypeReason To Avoid / Notes
AnchoviesContains salt.
BaconContains salt and saturated fats.
BaglesMay contain added salt.
BiscuitsThese may be high in saturated fats.
Bread productsMay contain added salt.
Breakfast cerealsLikely to contain salt and sugar.
BunsContains sugar.
CakesContains sugar and saturated fats.
Cereal barsContains sugar.
Cheeses (some)Contains salt and saturated fats. Avoid all cheeses before the age of six months. Thereafter, avoid cheeses including non-pasteurised, mould-ripened (like brie), veined cheese (like stilton) and ripened goats’ cheese — unless used in [hot] cooking to kill harmful microbes.
Chips with added saltContains salt.
Chocolate & chocolate products, spreads etc.Contains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
CiabattaContains salt.
CrispsContains salt. They can also contain high levels of saturated fat.
CrumpetsMay contain added salt.
EggsAvoid before the age of 6 months, thereafter avoid if raw/only lightly cooked unless they exhibit the Red Lion or ‘British Lion Quality’ stamp.
Fizzy drinksAvoid if they contain added sugar.
Fruit juicesEven unsweetened juice will contain natural ‘free’ sugars.
Gravy granulesContains salt.
HamContains salt.
HoneyContains sugar and also may contain bacteria that produces toxins in babies’ intestines, potentially causing botulism. Never give honey to children under the age of 1.
Ice creamContains sugar, saturated fats
Jelly cubesChoking hazard.
Juice drinksContain sugar.
Marlin meatContains mercury.
MayonnaiseLikely to contain salt.
NectarsContains sugar.
Nuts – salted and dry-roastedContains salt. Choking hazard too, unless crushed.
OlivesContains salt. Choking hazard.
Pasta saucesLikely to contain salt.
PastriesContains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
PicklesContains salt.
PizzaLikely to contain salt.
PrawnsContains salt.
Ready mealsContains salt.
Rice drinksAvoid before the age of 5 – contains arsenic.
SalamiContains salt.
Salt fishContains salt.
SandwichesLikely to contain salt.
SaucesLikely to contain salt.
SausagesLikely to contain salt and saturated fats.
Shark meatContains mercury.
ShelfishAvoid if raw/lightly cooked.
Smoked meat and fishContains salt.
SmoothiesContains sugar.
SoupLikely to contain salt.
Soy sauceContains salt.
Stock cubesContains salt.
SweetsContains sugar.
Swordfish meatContains mercury.
Syrups including maple, golden, agave etc.Contains sugar.
TakeawaysContains salt.
Tomato ketchupContains salt.
Vegetable juicesContains sugar.
Yeast extractContains salt.
Yoghurts (flavoured)Contains sugar.

We hope that this ready-reference is useful for parents and guardians of babies and young children. However, it is a guide only and you should do your own research, including in regard to possible allergies. Always check food labels and ensure you’re using information for infants, not adults.

Healthy Eating at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Our standard fees include healthy meals (breakfast, lunch and tea as appropriate), healthy snacks and drinks. Meals contain fresh, nutritious ingredients that are locally sourced and prepared by award-winning early years caterers. We cater for all dietary needs including vegan and vegetarian options. We also participate in the ‘Startwell’ programme, which encourages healthy food and lifestyles amongst children and families in the Birmingham area.

Looking for outstanding nurseries/pre-schools in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds is a popular nursery and pre-school located in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We offer high quality childcare to local parents/guardians, including those who live or work in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. To learn more about how we can bring out the very best in your baby, toddler or under-five child, we invite you to bring them along for a nursery visit. Ask us any questions and have a look around. See if your child feels at home. You can also simply apply for a place or send us a message. Please choose a button below to get started:

Baby Banks - Help for Struggling Families

Some baby banks even supply pre-loved toys to children of struggling familiesWith the fall-out from ongoing energy increases and costs rapidly rising for food and products, many families are struggling to afford new things for their children. However, real help is at hand in the form of ‘baby banks’. Baby banks are primarily, although not always exclusively, aimed at those who are struggling financially and allow families to obtain anything from baby food to buggies, absolutely free of charge. It’s a little bit like the concept of food banks, when you think about it, and indeed some food banks are now also joining forces with baby banks to supply other essential items to families.

What Baby Banks Can Supply to Families

The growing number of baby banks offers all kinds of free items for families with babies and young children, usually aged up to five although sometimes also significantly older. Items that families can obtain, without charge, include:

  • Nappies and baby wipes
  • Clothes for babies and chiildren
  • Strollers, buggies and prams
  • Moses baskets and small cots
  • Bedding (not for cots)
  • High chairs and floor seats
  • Towels
  • Toys & play equipment
  • Baby food, snacks and formula milk
  • Toiletries for babies and mothers
  • Baby carriers
  • Some car seats (conditions apply)
  • Bibs
  • Clean bottles and sterilisers

N.B. not every baby bank offers all of the above but we’ve scouted around to get an overall picture of the possibilities.

Donate Your Child’s Pre-Loved Items

If you have baby items, pre-loved toys, good-as-new clothes or equipment for little ones that you no longer need, help others by donating them to your nearest baby bank.If you have baby items, pre-loved toys, good-as-new clothes or equipment for little ones that you no longer need, you can help others in need by donating them to your nearest baby bank. As well as helping families in your local community, baby banks are an excellent way to make space and to recycle items that are too good to discard. It’s a win for the planet too!

Baby Banks in Birmingham

The good news for families local to Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is that there are several baby banks in Birmingham, including some that are just a stone’s throw from Edgbaston. That’s great news if you are either in need of something for your little one(s) or if you have spare items that you can donate to help others.

Baby Banks Around the UK

Baby banks supply an enormous array of items including pre-loved strollers, Moses baskets and high-chairs.Some baby banks are independent while others are run by baby bank networks including Growbaby International, Baby Basics and NCT Baby Bundles. The growth of such groups and independents means that there are now baby banks throughout the UK. The list is growing — and there are now even some abroad. Many state that they will help families irrespective of income, background or faith.

Find Your Nearest Baby Bank

You can find your nearest baby bank by navigating the interactive map of UK baby banks below. If you click the little rectangle in the top right corner, you can make the entire map full screen. That will then show the key to the marker symbols too (the square icon in the top left-hand corner below will also toggle the key on and off if you don’t choose the full screen option). You can enlarge/reduce the zoom level using the + or – symbols in the bottom left-hand corner, or by using your mouse wheel. Drag the map around to move to the location you require.

Points to Note

Clean bottles & sterilisers can also be supplied by, or donated to, baby banks.Points to bear in mind are that some baby banks and similar supply items for children aged 0 to 5 while others go right up to the age of 16, so check that any baby bank you have in mind is suitable for the age of your particular child(ren), or equipment if donating. Many work on an appointment-only basis and some are only open on particular days of the week. Therefore, it’s important to initially make contact with them rather than attempting to turn up, out of the blue.

Baby Bank Referrals

While some baby banks accept enquiries from families directly, many only supply items after a referral from a family support worker or agency, social worker, health visitor, nurse, teacher, women’s refuge, food bank or family centre. So, if you are in need of anything from a baby bank, it’s often best to get a referral. Ask one of the professionals listed in this paragraph, or check individual rules once you have identified your local baby bank(s) and have clicked through to their contact page(s) — see the interactive map above.

If you found this guide to baby banks and the resources they offer useful, please feel free to share it on social media and to bookmark it in your browser.

Leaps & Bounds: A High Quality Nursery & Pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Looking for the best nursery or pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds is a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham offering a wonderful weekday childcare service for babies and children under five. We’re very near to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick too, so might also suit you if you live or work in those locations. Why not arrange an appointment to bring your baby or child along to tour the nursery, so you can both experience it in the flesh and ask any questions that you might have. Alternatively, simply apply for a place for your baby or under-five child, or send us a message. Please choose a button below to get started:

Unpaid Parental Leave: Your Right to Extra Time Off

Occasionally, an unexpected need arises in relation to your child's welfare and you simply have to deal with it.Sometimes it can be almost impossible for working parents to juggle their jobs with complications associated with parenting. Occasionally, an unexpected need arises in relation to your child’s welfare and you simply have to deal with it — even though you’re trying to hold down a job. For this reason, working parents in the UK are protected by law and are entitled to a fairly generous amount of unpaid parental leave from work, without their jobs or employment rights being threatened as a result. While such absence from work is unpaid, time off can be an absolute godsend when your child’s welfare is at stake. Today, we take a look at eligibility and rules around unpaid parental leave for UK parents.

Reasons to Take Unpaid Parental Leave

You may need time off to look at nurseries or pre-schools for your little one.Entitlement to take unpaid parental leave from work comes down to the need to look after the welfare of your child under 18. Some examples may help to illustrate a few of the possible scenarios:

  • Perhaps you can’t arrange alternative childcare for a particular future period. However, this will happen while you’ll be busy at work and, at that point, you also know you’ll have no more annual leave remaining. In such a situation, you simply have to look after them yourself using your unpaid parental leave entitlement. After all, they are very young and cannot simply be left to fend for themselves.
  • Another example would be when you need to take time off with your youngster to go and look at nurseries, pre-schools, schools or even further education settings when it’s nearing time for them to enrol with one. When it’s not possible to do such things outside of working hours, at weekends or during standard annual leave, unpaid parental leave can really come into its own.
  • You may also wish to take unpaid leave from work to ensure your child settles in well at any new childcare or education setting. A week’s grace when they start somewhere new can really help you and your child at such major milestones in your lives.
  • Unpaid parental leave can also be taken for something as simple, though important, as spending some quality time with family. For example, perhaps the child hasn’t spent time with their grandparents in a while and you’d like to pay them a visit as a family. Unpaid parental leave, away from work, can be used for that.

Your Unpaid Parental Leave Entitlement

You are entitled to take 18 weeks of parental leave before your child is 18.There are a few, simple rules around entitlement to unpaid parental leave in the UK:

  • You are entitled to take up to a total of 18 weeks of parental leave from work, on an unpaid basis, by the time your child reaches the age of 18.
  • You can take up to 4 of those weeks in any one year.
  • The entitlement applies to your own children as well as adopted children.
  • The entitlement is per child under 18.
  • You need to take the time off in whole weeks, rather than ad-hoc days, unless your employer agrees otherwise or unless your child is disabled. For part-time or shift workers, a whole week would be equivalent to the number of working days you usually work in any 7 day period. For those working an irregular pattern, an ‘average week’ can be computed by looking at the number of days worked over a whole year, then dividing by fifty-two.
  • The 18 week maximum, per child under 18, is based on the child(ren) not the job. So, aside from the additional eligibility requirements outlined below, the number of times a parent changes jobs along the way is not relevant.

Additional Eligibility Requirements

As well as the child(ren) being under the age of 18, a few additional requirements need to be met in order to be eligible for unpaid parental leave:

  • Only those who have been employed by the current employer for at least a year are eligible;
  • The scheme applies to employees only, not the self-employed, agency workers or contractors;
  • The employee must be actually named on the birth or adoption certificate(s) of the child(ren) in question, or have — or expect to have — official parental responsibility;

Your Employer

Employer's are entitled to 3 weeks' notice before you can take unpaid parental leave.By law, employers do require sufficient notice from you when you’re planning to take unpaid parental leave. Legally, they require 3 weeks’ notice (21 days) before you can begin to take the time off. You will also usually need to confirm an end date. In practice, though, some employers are lenient when an unexpected emergency occurs and such notice may not be possible, for example a child suddenly becoming ill and no other childcare being available on such short notice. They are not obliged to be lenient in this way, however.

Your employer does have a right to postpone (but not cancel) your requested parental leave if they can show that the business would suffer or be disrupted, or for some other significant reason. However, they cannot postpone it …

  • if such a postponement would take the date of parental leave past the child in question’s 18th birthday,
  • or if the leave is being taken by the father/partner right after the child has been born or adopted.

When an employer does confirm that it needs to be postponed, it must be done in writing, with the reason explained, within a week of the employee’s request. It must also be rescheduled for no later than 6 months after that original request date. The amount of time originally requested must also not be altered by the employer.

We hope that this guide is useful to parents with children under 18. Please feel free to share it on social media or to bookmark it in your browser.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery & Pre-school, Edgbaston, Birmingham

One of the best nurseries & pre-schools in the Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood, Smethwick & Edgbaston Area

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds is one of the best nurseries and pre-schools in Edgbaston, Birmingham and also a great choice if you’re looking for an outstanding nursery near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. We’d love to show you and your child around, so you can see the high quality of childcare and the excellent facilities for yourself. We are also taking applications for nursery places right now, for babies and children under five. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to help with all the answers. Please choose a button below to contact us and we’ll be delighted to take the next step with you:

20 of Our Favourite Quotes for Parents

Today we put the spotlight on 20 of our favourite quotes for, or about, parents and parenting. Each one of them either inspired, amused or resonated with us in some way — we are parents ourselves. Indeed, if they did not affect us in one of these ways, they simply did not make the list! Some are also quite profound and, we’ll be honest, may stir an emotion or two. If you are a parent too, see if any affect you or register with you in a similar way. Click any quote for a larger view and you can then also scroll through all 20 quotes individually.

These quote images can be shared freely on social media, pinned on Pinterest, bookmarked or linked to it if you found any of them amusing, inspiring or touching.

Is Your Child a Fussy Eater?

Today's article offers a handy guide to dealing with toddlers and preschoolers who are fussy about food.Is your child a fussy eater? If so, it can be rather frustrating for parents or guardians. It could also lead to a poorly balanced diet, which would be bad from a number of health and wellbeing perspectives. The good news, though, is that there are lots of things that parents can do to potentially cure the problem. Today’s article offers a handy guide to dealing with toddlers and preschoolers who are fussy about food.

Don’t Stress

If they’re in their early years, food fussiness is rather common, so you’re far from alone. When they transition from milk onto solids, everything is new to infants, from tastes to textures — and even colours when you think about it. While some little ones take to the new sensory stimuli with relish, others seem put off initially by many of these new food experiences. After all, most of them will not be as sweet as the milk they’ve been used to. Being wary of new food is perfectly normal too, even instinctive for many. After all, they don’t know what’s good or bad for them at such an early age.

Some Think They Don’t Like it

Another major factor in disliking certain foods is that children often think they don’t like it. That’s common to many children and, indeed, even to some older children. It’s even common for adults to later eat and enjoy foods that they wouldn’t have given the time of day to during childhood, simply based on a misplaced early belief that they didn’t or wouldn’t like it.

Try, Try and Try Food Again

Infants may need to try a new food as many as fifteen times before they accept it.

It can sometimes take 10 to 15 attempts before children will learn to like a particular food.That, above, is one of the main secrets of encouraging children to accept a particular food i.e. getting them to try, try, … and try it again. It can sometimes take 10 to 15 times before they’ll realise that, actually, it tastes pretty good now they’re used to it! It’s the very definition of an ‘acquired taste’ when you think about it and this seemingly odd facet of human nature is worth explaining to under-fives. It could encourage them to try more things.

Showing empathy to a child around their food misgivings can also help. They may well pick up on your advice eventually, even if it takes several tries before they learn to ‘trust’ and accept a particular food. Being enthusiastic about a food they’re wary of may also help.

Disguising Food

Hiding or disguising food is another useful approach for parents/guardians of children who won’t eat a specific food. A particular vegetable, for example, can be made into a mash, mixed in with a salad, made into a sauce or soup or even chopped up and used in a garnish. This will get the child used to the taste without realising they are eating something they weren’t keen on attempting.

People eat first with their eyes.

Make Food Fun!

Food can be made into a picture on the plate, to make eating more fun for little ones.Another way to encourage children to eat foods they are not keen on trying is to make them more appealing and entertaining. A plate of food could be made into a picture, for example. Broccoli could be used to represent trees, a mound of peas could represent a hilltop and cut up carrots could be made to look like a sun, perhaps. Pictorial themes might include faces, the countryside, space and exploration, animal shapes, rainbows, the seaside, the weather and so on. Children will naturally engage with this concept and it will make food fun.

Similarly, you might allow children to use plates and bowls that have fun designs that are revealed as food is consumed from them.

Pretending the food on the spoon is a train, car or plane coming towards them makes every mouthful fun!Then, of course, there is the old favourite for the youngest of the children — pretending the food on the spoon is a train, car or plane coming towards them! This, with suitable sound effects from the parent, makes every mouthful great fun!

Build Bridges

By that, we mean ‘food bridges‘. These are a way of harnessing a child’s liking of one food to introduce another. An example would be where, if they like boiled potatoes but not cheese or apple, you would sprinkle a little grated cheese or apple purée on top of the potatoes. Work with small amounts first and then they’ll gradually get used to the tastes.

Get Children Involved with Food

Getting children involved in choosing and preparing food can help encourage them to eat it.Getting children involved in all aspects of food may also encourage them to try different things and to accept them. Examples would include letting them choose the vegetables or fruit from the supermarket shelves, allowing them to be involved (under supervision) in the meal preparation and even helping them to grow their own food. Allowing them to decide how food is presented on the plate is another example. All these things make food fun and less intimidating.

Positive Signals & Encouragement

Children often do better with encouragement and its place around food is no different. So, some enthusiasm from parents/guardians in this regard will go a long way. “Ooh, that’s yummy!” or “It’s so tasty!” type comments will send positive signals to the child as they eat. Be positive about food, the different tastes and textures and how good food is for them. “It will make you grow up to be big … strong … energised … and healthy” etc.

Negotiate!

Some children can be quite stubborn so, if they’re refusing a decent food for no good reason, try negotiating with them! For example, “If you eat all of your peas, we’ll go to the swings” and so on. Focus on encouragement i.e. rewarding them rather than punishing them if they don’t eat. It’s the ‘carrot’ not the ‘stick’, to use the metaphor, as you want positivity around food, never negativity.

Teach by Example

Children instinctively learn from their parents, guardians, adults and role models.If a child is hesitant about trying a particular food, let them see you eat – and enjoy – some of it. You are their primary role model, after all. As we said before, remind them, perhaps, that it’s ‘yummy’ or that their friend or TV hero enjoys it. Children instinctively learn from their parents, guardians, adults and role models, so this is a very natural way to encourage them to eat things they really should be eating.

Don’t forget, it can take multiple tries, so don’t give in! Gentle perseverance is key when it comes to children trying food that they’re wary of.

Healthy Eating at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Our childcare professionals know all these approaches, of course. So, if a child is reticent about a particular food, we know just what to do to encourage them to try it, without undue pressure. Parents can also discuss their child’s food and eating with our childcare practitioners — we will always take on board their preferences and advice.

Healthy, fresh, balanced meals, snacks and drinks are all provided at Leaps & Bounds nursery/pre-school — they’re included in our fees. The nursery also adopted the ‘Startwell’ programme some years ago and this is a way to keep children eating healthily and keeping active. Learn more about the Birmingham Startwell programme here.

Looking for an Outstanding Childcare Service in Edgbaston, Birmingham?

Try Leaps & Bounds, a childcare nursery & pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

If you’re searching for the best nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham or near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please contact us. We’ll be happy to show you around the setting, answer your questions and welcome your child to our lovely nursery and pre-school. Please choose a button below:

Today we’re taking a look at some fun food growing activities that under-fives can undertake at home. As we said in that last post, teaching children to grow food has an enormous number of benefits, so our post today explains some easy and inexpensive ways that children can get started.

No Garden Required

Many of today’s vegetable and herb growing activities can be accomplished simply on a well-lit windowsill. So, if you do not have a garden, courtyard, balcony or access to an allotment, it doesn’t matter — your little ones can still get involved in these wonderful activities. The plants will simply need some water, soil, light and a little care.

Re-Growing Herbs for Free

To re-grow herbs, snip off a few clippings, remove any leaves nearest the bottom and place the stems into water — roots will grow.When you next buy herbs like basil, parsley, coriander or rosemary from the supermarket, get your child to try this simple herb-growing task using a few left-over stalks.

All they need to do is pull or, with suitable supervision, snip off a few clippings, remove any leaves nearest the bottom of the stems and place those stems into water as shown in the photograph (right). If these are left dangling in water for a week or two, roots will start to grow from the stems. The clippings are then new plants, ready to be planted into soil, for example in pots on the windowsill. Once the roots have grown, young herb plants can be potted into soil and grown on the windowsill.Flower pots, used yoghurt pots or anything similar will do, so long as there is drainage in the bottom (place on a saucer or tray to protect the windowsill). Once they’ve been potted in the soil, they’ll need to be regularly watered and, in time, they’ll sprout into fully-fledged herb plants that can be harvested for food as they grow. New clippings can also be taken from the mature plant so that the whole process can be repeated. Children will love seeing and being responsible for this little miracle! And the best thing is that the cost will have been negligible. How’s that for sustainable food production!

Re-Growing Lettuce & Vegetables for Free

Baby lettuce leaves sprouting just 4 days after placing the lettuce base in water.Next time you cut the leaves off a lettuce, the edible part off a celery, or the ‘bulb’ flesh from an onion, instead of discarding the ‘root’ section at the bottom, keep hold of it. In a similar way to what we described above, this bottom section can be dangled or placed into a water vessel for a few days. The tops will eventually grow shoots and the bottom sections will eventually grow roots. In our own experiment with lettuce, the little lettuce leaves nearest the centre started growing in just one day! Plants like celery can also be re-grown and planted into pots once roots have grown.The accompanying photo (right) shows the growth after four days and all this is happening before the roots have even begun to sprout!. In just a week or two, this approach will give children new leaves to harvest for vegetables like lettuce, Swiss chard, celery, bok choy (Chinese lettuce), lemongrass and any similar salad leaf.

Children can use a similar approach using the lower section of things like onions, spring onions or garlic. New plants will sprout, roots will grow and the new young plants can be replanted into soil. With water, soil and light, they will eventually grow new ‘bulbs’ that can later be harvested and eaten.

Carrot tops can also be regrown and used in salads.A similar approach can also be used for carrot tops, except with those it’s the green, leafy carrot tops that your child can retain, grow and later harvest. These can be used in salads and garnishes.

Seeds can be harvested from vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, then grown into new plants.

Growing Vegetables & Fruit Using Free Seeds

Did you know that you can grow new fruit and vegetables from the seeds found in shop-bought fruit and vegetables? All your child needs to do is to keep some of the seeds from inside fruit and vegetables that you already bought as part of your weekly shop. Just a few examples follow — pips or seeds from all of the following can be ‘harvested’ and grown into new plants, ready to sprout new fruit or vegetable plants:

A few fruit examples:

  • Save the pips from apples
  • Save the pips from pears
  • Save the ‘stones’ from peaches or plums

A few vegetable examples:

  • Save the pips from tomatoes
  • Save the seeds from peppers
  • Save the seeds from pumpkins & squashes

Seeds from ripe beans, sugar snaps and similar can be saved, grown into seedlings and planted into containers or grow bags to make new plants and a new crop.The seeds from ripe sugar snaps and beans can also be saved by children to ‘seed’ into new plants, to get free vegetables! Once sprouting, they can be planted out into grow bags or a patch of soil in the garden. They will give the family a whole new crop of vegetables if they’re regularly watered and looked after.

Children can also save the seeds from courgettes and marrows. However, those need to come from really mature ones that have ideally been left to fully ripen on the plant itself. So, for these two examples it may be best to ask around to see if any friends or neighbours are growing any. The seeds in shop-bought marrows and courgettes may not be mature enough to grow new plants from. Plants like marrows, courgettes and beans do need quite a bit of space too, once they become mature plants. Therefore, from a practical point of view, children may have to limit themselves to herbs and vegetables that only grow into smaller plants if their households has limited growing space.

Looking for an Outstanding Nursery, Pre-School or Forest School in Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Children grow plants and herbs at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham. As a Forest School and a nursery/pre-school that educates under-fives as well as looking after them, we encourage children to engage in activities involving nature. These include plant growing as well as learning about and enjoying everything that the natural world has to offer. If you are looking for an outstanding nursery & Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham, or the best pre-schools and nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please contact us. We’re here to answer any questions,  show you around so you and your little one can experience the setting for yourselves and to welcome your child to the childcare setting if you decide to enrol. Please apply for a place or contact us below:

Next Time …

In our next post we outline how children can extend their food-growing activities to include growing ‘microgreens’. It’s a real fun, easy, educational and exciting activity that results in lots of nutritious baby shoots that children can eat in salads or as garnishes. Learn more about how children can grow microgreens at home here.

 

How to Prepare Children For Nursery & Pre-school

Starting at nursery or pre-school is a big step for little ones.Starting at nursery or pre-school is a big step for little ones. Having been surrounded mainly by close family in a familiar and comforting home environment, they’re suddenly expected to settle in somewhere completely alien, surrounded by strangers. It would be a tall order for anyone, let alone a toddler or preschooler. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Here are some easy steps that parents or carers can take to make the move to nursery/pre-school plain sailing for little ones.

Bring Them for a Visit and/or Settling-in Session

Once you’ve identified the most likely nursery or pre-school contender(s) for your child, take them for a visit. At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, for example, we’ll be happy to show both adults and their little ones around the setting — more than once if it helps. By doing so, children can meet the childcare professionals that will look after them before they actually start. They can even sit in on some of the activities, perhaps. Such visits, and any additional ‘settling-in’ sessions, allow children to get to know the staff, familiarise themselves with the layout of the setting and locate exactly where toys and equipment of interest can be found. They also allow new children to get to know other little ones who are likely to be in their peer group. Therefore later, once they start nursery/pre-school properly, they will see familiar faces and equipment and will be able to hit the ground running.

Talk About It

Some easy steps will help make the move to nursery/pre-school plain sailing for little ones.Talking about soon starting nursery/pre-school is a great way to get toddlers and preschoolers used to the idea. Even better is discussing all the exciting things that they’ll be able to do once there. For example, making new friends, being creative, playing with new toys, resources and equipment, learning new skills, taking part in extra-curricular activities, learning about nature, outdoor visits and so on. Getting them excited about the opportunities that nurseries and pre-schools represent is key. It also, of course, helps little ones understand what to expect so that they’re mentally prepared when the time comes.

Listen

It’s equally important, if not more so, to listen to any questions or misgivings that your child may have about starting a nursery/pre-school. Answer questions, of course, but also reassure them when doing so. After all, questions may be a little signal that they’re anxious. Carefully crafted answers and reassurance are great ways to allay any concerns that they may have, before they become more deeply set.

We should also add that it’s important not to ‘reflect’ any concerns that you have onto your child. So, be careful what is said within hearing range of your child. The staff at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery will always be happy to discuss any concerns you or your child have, of course — we’re here for you all, after all.

Having a familiar friend on day one of nursery or pre-school will help children settle in and not feel alone.Find a Friend

You could also ask around to see if your child already knows, or plays with, another child that will start at the childcare setting at the same time as them. As we mentioned above, having a familiar friend there from day one will really help them to settle in and not feel alone.

Nurture Their Independence

Nurturing independence before under-fives start nursery/pre-school is also a great way to help them be better prepared. If they can go to the loo independently, wash their hands, fasten their own shoes, learn to tidy up for themselves, pack their own bag and so on, it’ll greatly help them once they’re without you at nursery or pre-school. Even speaking, communicating and following instructions as well as possible — before starting — will help them to be more confident and more relaxed on arrival. All of this needs to be encouraged well before they start if it’s to be fully effective.

Teach Them a Routine!

Another thing that needs to be done in advance of the start date is getting them used to appropriate bed, waking up and breakfast times. Specifically, the goal is to ensure their body clocks have fully adjusted to be in tune with their day once they start at the childcare setting. If this is achieved, they’re far more likely to feel energised rather than over-tired during their nursery day.

On Day 1

Perhaps sneak a favourite cuddly toy or comforter into your child's pack, so they have 'company' on the day.Before long, the first day of nursery will arrive. There are a few things that you can do to help your child on the day:

  • Ensure their clothes and backpack are ready beforehand, so that’s one less thing to worry about on the day. Perhaps even sneak your child’s favourite soft toy or comforter into the pack, so they have ‘company’ on the day.
  • Don’t be late. That’s important. So, ensure you are all up early enough so that getting ready for the first day of nursery is not ‘panic stations’. It needs to be relaxed, stress-free and fuss-free for your child.
  • Focus on how exciting it’s going to be for your child. Your enthusiasm will help to allay any trepidation they may be feeling.
  • Hide any anxiety you may be feeling yourself and stay positive otherwise your child may pick up on your feelings themselves. That’s also important in the moment that you drop them off and say goodbye.
  • Remind your child what time you’ll be picking them up, so they feel reassured.

Remind your child what time you'll be picking them up, so they feel reassured.Chances are, though, they may well fly through that entrance gate, without so much as a glance or a wave, and can’t wait to disappear for a day of fun!

On arrival, our childcare professionals will will put children’s minds at rest immediately as they welcome them into the nursery. We’ll make sure they feel safe, relaxed and cared for and will ensure they have a wonderful first day at nursery/pre-school.

Our Edgbaston Nursery & Pre-School is near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

We are a nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham (B16), so are also conveniently located if you require childcare services near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. If you’re looking for high quality childcare for under-fives in these areas, please get in touch — we can help. We’re also a Birmingham Forest School, giving children access to outdoor experiences and adventure that teach them about the natural world — and also about themselves. We have an incredible mix of learning and development opportunities at Leaps & Bounds, so why not come along for a visit with your little one. We’ll show you both around and will be happy to answer any questions …

Sensory Activities for Babies & Toddlers
Sensory play ideas to help babies and toddlers during early learning and development.In our last post, we examined the importance of sensory perception in under-fives. It was clear how incredibly important such sensory perception is for young children and how their very survival relies on being in touch with their senses. Through these senses, they learn about the world and everything around them. This also trains their bodies and brains to recognise the stimuli and automatically react. It helps them to know what’s good or bad for them, keep themselves safe and be able to live and communicate successfully in the world. With that background in mind, we follow up today with a look at some examples of sensory play activities that can help babies and toddlers during their early learning and development.

SAFETY FIRST: Always supervise your baby or child, so they don’t hurt themselves, touch or ingest anything that could harm them.

Sensory Activities for Babies & Toddlers

Bubbles are a feast for the sensesBubbles

Watching colourful bubbles floating in the air is sure to be a big hit with babies and toddlers alike. You can almost see the sense of wonder in their expressions as they watch them float. To them, bubbles are magical as they hang in the air with their wonderful rainbow colours gently moving around on the surfaces. Babies will be even more delighted when a bubble lands on their skin. They’re a feast for sight as well as touch at the moment the bubble lands and delicately bursts.

Sensory Foil

Sensory foil is a massive hit with babies and makes a variety of sounds that they find fascinating.There is a type of safe sensory foil blanket on the market that you can buy for babies. It’s been a massive hit with babies and makes a variety of different sounds that totally intrigue them. What’s more, it doesn’t have the sharp edges associated with some types of paper. Babies can simply lie and roll around on the foil blanket to enjoy the sounds, or scrunch them with their hands to have more control or to hear louder sounds. It’s a great way for them to hone their hand-eye control, fine motor and listening skills. They’re also great visually, particularly if there are any coloured lights or objects in the room that will reflect on the foil in magical ways. Generally speaking, babies are mesmerised by sensory foil, so give it a try if you haven’t done so.

Parents can introduce babies to a variety of pleasant natural scents by securing things like herbs or lemon peel in muslin or gauze 'pods'.Scents

Parents can introduce babies to a variety of pleasant natural scents by securing things like herbs or lemon peel in muslin or gauze ‘pods’ (see photo example). Simply waft near your baby’s nose to let them enjoy the wonderful smell of lemon, mint leaves, and so on. Be mindful of possible pollen allergies and toxins, though, so do your safety research on any contents before exposing your baby to them.

Black & White/High Contrast Cards & Books

Black & white images will allow young babies to see and recognise shapes more clearly as well as synchronise those images in both eyes together.Did you know that high contrast images are great for young babies? That’s because lower contrast images, especially pastels, may be lost on them as their eyesight isn’t yet fully developed. Also, with relatively poor eyesight and eye coordination when they’re first born, high contrast black and white images will help babies to match the images they perceive in one eye with the same image in the other.

Babies will not recognise the full spectrum of colours that we see as adults until around five months of age. That’s another reason books or cards containing images in high contrast black and white are becoming more popular in recent times for this age group. They allow infants to see and recognise shapes more clearly than lower-contrast alternatives as well as having the aforementioned eye/image coordination benefit. This visual sensory stimulation is also thought to help their brain syntaxes to develop faster in a kind of beneficial ‘feedback loop’.

Sound Activities

Babies and toddlers will enjoy — and benefit from — sound-making.Babies and toddlers will enjoy — and benefit from — sound-making. This type of activity will allow them to experiment with different ways to make sounds, stimulating auditory senses as well as helping them to develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It’ll also help them to understand cause and effect more clearly, i.e. to associate sounds they’re making with their causes.

In the most simple approach, babies and toddlers can use something like a building block as a ‘drum’ and a wooden spoon as a ‘drumstick’ and gradually learn to tap away. Babies aren’t born with great coordination, so this is a good first step to give them more control over limbs. Taking it a step further, a responsible adult can make them sound shakers by half-filling clean plastic bottles with dried rice, pasta or similar and then sealing securely. Once safely sealed, babies and toddlers can have fun shaking them to hear the different sounds that can be made through their own actions. Such sensory activities will help them learn in so many ways, both in terms of physical skills and coordination as well as making new brain connections and associations.

Different Materials & Textures

Your baby can also be introduced to different materials and textures like this feather example.Your baby or infant can also be introduced to different materials and textures (suitably supervised for safety, of course, and any choking hazards avoided). Whether it’s a piece of velvet, faux fur or a feather, babies and toddlers will be very intrigued by the look and feel. So, think about introducing them to a variety of materials, both man-made and natural, that perhaps contrast each other so the child can learn how to connect the look of something to the feel of it. These are basic skills, but ones we each had to learn at a very early age.

Food

Once your baby or toddler has been weaned onto solids (e.g. as purée or liquidised foods), they can explore different tastes and food textures. They may be more likely to do so if you give them a spoon, so they can learn to control which food they taste, perhaps from a variety of options that you have prepared for them to try. When they’re suitably dextrous, a variety of finger foods can also be given to them to try. Take precautions, of course, in regard to possible allergens, so choose food types with caution and do your research.

In these ways, various senses will be stimulated in new ways and fine motor skills will improve. Also, exposing them to a variety of different foods and tastes early may give them a broader set of food preferences once they’re older i.e. potentially make them less likely to become fussy eaters.

Nature

Babies and toddlers find nature simply wondrous.Babies and toddlers find nature simply wondrous. There’s something amazing to see, hear, smell, touch and feel everywhere (under close adult supervision, of course). Flowers, with their scents and beautiful colours, will amaze them. Or, have you ever noticed the different smells after it rains, or the warm breeze brush past your face on a sunny day? These will all be new to babies and a feast for the senses. Indeed, nature is the ultimate tool for sensory awakening for babies and toddlers. That’s one of the many reasons that Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is also a Forest School (learn more about our Edgbaston/Birmingham Forest School here).

Sensory Activities at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16

At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, we fully understand the importance of sensory play, so build sensory-based activities into the learning and development plan for every child. Each child has access to multi-sensory play equipment and we even have a sensory zone. Stimulation of senses at this early age does so much to help in early years development. It helps integrate a comprehensive view of the world into children’s very beings and reinforces their safe place within it. It helps to build new pathways in the brain and vastly improves cognitive skills. It aids physical development including coordination and motor skills and so much more. We hope some of the sensory discovery ideas above are useful for parents/guardians to use as part of their child’s home learning activities. Next time we’ll look at sensory activities for preschoolers.

Nursery Places in Edgbaston/Birmingham

For more information about a nursery place at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, please get in touch. We’re a high quality nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick.