Home Learning Activities to Help Under-5s: Activity Ideas for Parents
There are lots of activities that children can do and benefit from at home.When it comes to the learning and development of children, a good parent-nursery partnership is absolutely vital to maximising their short- and long-term success. In the mid-term, it also ensures they’re ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave our care. We therefore work together with parents¹, in close partnership. By doing so, children will receive a consistent, ‘joined-up’ approach to the tailored curriculum and the shared goals that we create for each of them. Sharing goals for children both at home and in the nursery will ensure the strengthening of strong areas as well as bolstering any weaker areas that children may find challenging.

With this in mind, today we outline a variety of activity ideas that all parents can undertake with children when at home. Such ‘home learning’ activities will support the progress of children’s learning and development while at home, whilst also supporting the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum that children are working to at the nursery/pre-school.

Home Learning Activities — for 2-Year-Olds

‘Creative Table’ Activities

These creative activities can span a variety of art and crafts undertaken using a surface that is easily cleanable, for example a small table.

  • Why not get the paints out. Your child can enjoy using and mixing a variety of colours and, as well as being a creative opportunity, this can be a colour learning exercise too. Perhaps draw shapes for your child to paint and then your child can learn the different shape words as well.
  • Reading is one of the most important and impactful activities that parents can help children with.Play dough will be a popular choice for little ones, especially if shape cutters and a rolling pin are brought into the activity. Play dough is entertaining to use, it’s creative and children will learn about colours, shapes and three-dimensional form as they go along.
  • Another variation of this type of activity might instead use cookie dough that can later be eaten once cooked (under supervision). Animal-shaped cutters and suchlike will also make this activity more fun.
  • Potato stamping is another good table-top creative activity although, for safety, Mum or Dad will need to do the cutting part. Children will enjoy stamping different shapes and colours onto paper or card, perhaps forming repeat patterns or little scenes.

Beneficial outcomes: These activities help children to use their imaginations, they boost creativity skills and may even expand children’s knowledge of language and vocabulary. They will also help children to hone finer motor skills and coordination.

‘Simon Says’ Activity

By the age of two, most toddlers will have heard the song Heads, shoulders, knees and toes and, like that song, the ‘Simon Says’ game will help them to remember the correct identification of parts of the body. For example, tell them Simon says “touch your toes”. Then, ensure they do so or, of course, correct them if they get it wrong. The command could also be some other alternative like “jump up and down” or “clap your hands” or even “sit on your bottom”.

Beneficial outcomes: This type of activity helps not only with memory skills, but also with motor skills, coordination and balance. They may even learn some new words and boost their vocabulary.

‘Stop and Go’ Activity

Challenge children to find specific things when outdoors in nature.This can be played inside or outside where the child has a bit of space, for example a long hallway would be perfect. Let your child pretend they are walking of perhaps even driving. Give the commands “Stop!” and “Go!” and perhaps even “Freeze!”. They’ll probably find this highly amusing, particularly if you give them feedback and encouragement. Another twist on this activity would be for them to do the activity whilst dancing. You could then abruptly stop the music and shout “Stop!” and so on.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity encourages children to use their listening skill and also their balance skills. At the same time, it’s also huge fun for toddlers! And, if they go for the dancing version of the activity, it’ll help with coordination and general fitness too.

Dressing Up Activity

Playing at dressing up can conjure up all sorts of scenarios and characters — from spacemen, fire fighters and nurses to princesses or your child’s favourite characters from television or books. Perhaps your child has just read about a fireman and it’s fresh in their memory. Dressing up and re-enacting a part of the book will boost your child’s memory while also letting them develop a few moments of creative acting.

Perhaps say to your child, “What would you like to be today?”. Help suggest ideas if they struggle at first and work with what materials you have to play with. It does not have to be a full-blown costume, just a hat will often do — your child’s imagination can do the rest. Children will love dressing up and will find this activity huge fun.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity can boost their imaginations as well as their planning and creativity skills.

Finding Hidden Objects

A fun activity for children is finding hidden things either inside the home or out in the garden.This hidden objects activity could involve hiding almost anything for the child to find. You could start off in one room only to make it easier initially. Show your child the object before hiding it. Once they start looking for it, you could use words like near, far, yes, no, warmer, colder and so on. Once they have mastered finding one object, perhaps add more for them to find. Then perhaps reverse roles and try to find objects the child has hidden for you. Ensure they also use the clue words like warm and cold etc. You could even set up some kind of reward to make it more exciting. For example, if they ‘win’ they could get a treat of some kind, like a funky sticker or trip to the swings.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity helps to improve children’s listening and (if roles are reversed) speaking skills, vocabulary, problem-solving skills and also gets them to use their imaginations.

Home Learning Activities — for 3-Year-Olds

Now your child is a bit older, you can move onto more challenging home learning activities.

Paper Plate Painting

Paper plates can be used in a variety of creative ways, e.g. to stick together to make three-dimensional shapes and also for painting. Circular plates give children a brilliant opportunity to paint a sun or face. A face can perhaps be happy or sad and why not add some cut up wool, glued on for hair, and buttons as eyes. Children can be as creative as they like.

Safety Note: Ensure your use non toxic glue and paint and that your 3 year old is supervised at all times due to the small parts they are playing with.

If your are able to have a walk with your child in the country or maybe even the park, why not suggest a list of ‘treasure’ that your child needs to find.Beneficial outcomes: Arts and crafts are said to use multiple areas of children’s brains and encourage the use of fine motor skills. They also stimulate the imagination and boost creativity.

Nature Treasure Hunts

If your are able to have a walk with your child in the country or maybe even the park, why not suggest a list of ‘treasure’ that your child needs to find. These can be as simple as a mossy stick, a pretty leaf, an interesting pebble, a fragrant flower, a pine cone, acorn, conker, and so on.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity will bring out the adventurer in children. It’s also a lovely way of getting fresh air and getting back to nature. It’s also a simple learning activity of what we can find in nature if we look.

Sandpit Treasure Hunts

You can also use a sandpit for a child's treasure hunt.Similarly, children will love looking for — and finding — ‘treasure’ hidden in a sandpit or sand box. Bury some pretend treasure in the sand and then let your child rummage through the sand to discover the hidden objects. You could make it more challenging by saying, for instance, that there are 5 treasures in the sand. Encourage your 3-year-old to count them as they come out as well saying what they are. You could also do this activity with the child blindfolded, so they have to feel the objects and guess what they are once found.

Beneficial outcomes: This is primarily a sensory activity and, as we all know, sensory activities are really good for children in their early years. These kinds of activities will stimulate children’s senses of touch and sight as well as encouraging movement and coordination. More sensory-based activities for preschoolers can be found here.

Making Bird Feeders

There are lots of different ways to easily make bird feeders at home.Not only is this a fun activity for your child, but it also helps the local wildlife. There are lots of different ways to easily make bird feeders at home. Just one easy example is to find a pine cone, coat it in smooth peanut butter then roll it in bird seed. Once coated, hang it outside using a piece of string. If possible, hang your bird feeder within easy view of a window where your child can watch, but also follow the advice given in the bold link above in regard to the safety of the visiting birds.

Beneficial outcomes: With this activity, children will practise their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as well as learning about nature and a healthy dose of empathy. If successful, children will love this activity and the positive outcome for visiting birds.

Home Learning Activities — for 4-Year-Olds

Now our little ones are bigger and more able, they can get involved in some more advanced home learning activities. Here are a few ideas to get them started.

Reading

This is such a beneficial activity for children — reading is one of the most important and impactful activities that parents can help children with. Read with your child so that they can learn from you. When your child listens to you reading, point at the words and explain some of the rules around words, spelling and how to read. If there are pictures, show the appropriate word with the picture and sound out the letters. You could also talk about the book afterwards, asking questions like, What happened? or Was that funny, sad, happy? etc. Practise acting to the characters in the book, perhaps making the sounds or faces that the characters would make.

Beneficial outcomes: This task will be both fun and highly educational for the child. Reading with under-fives has a whole host of benefits (follow the bold link in the paragraph above), including boosting language skills, boosting literacy, stimulating the imagination and creativity, preparing children better for school and more. Also, mastering reading helps in all other areas of the EYFS curriculum and is one of the best ways to help children maximise their potential in life.

Gardening

Get your child to help with pulling up weeds, or planting new seeds and plants.Get your child to help with pulling up weeds, or planting new seeds and plants. Give them set instructions or a demonstration to follow and ensure you stress the importance of caring for the plants and seedlings.

Beneficial outcomes: As well as being a healthy outdoor activity, your child learns about nature, seasons, the flora and fauna in the garden, and the process of growing living things. It also teaches them about the importance of nurturing the seedlings and plants and caring for their wellbeing. It teaches them about the growing process, responsibility and empathy and will also encourage a healthy love of nature — and brand new skills, of course.

Baking

Baking cakes, biscuits, cookies and breads under supervision will be a fun and educational activity for 4-year-olds.Baking cakes, biscuits, cookies and breads under your supervision* will be a fun and educational activity for 4-year-olds. What’s more, they’ll end up with something they can actually eat! During the process, try to explain the importance of measuring, doing things in the right order, waiting the right amount of time and so on. Ask them at the end about it, to ensure they have grasped the concepts.

* Under supervision for safety and teaching purposes.

Beneficial outcomes: With this activity, children will catch on to the concepts of measuring out, following instructions and the benefits of completing tasks in a carefully-planned and well-executed way. As well as practising their motor skills and coordination during the preparation processes, it will stimulate their brains in terms of logic, planning, attention to detail, following instructions, creativity and more.

Our Partnership With Parents

We are keen to provide guidance and support to parents in regard to their child’s education while at home, so that we’re all pulling in the same direction. So, if you are a parent of a child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more ideas, insights, resources and ideas for activities that will help in your child’s progress.

Likewise, we also value the unique perspective that parents bring, fully appreciating that they will have special insights about their own child. For this reason, we more than welcome feedback from parents. We can then use this to inform our planning and support for each child’s individual growth even more optimally. That’s real teamwork and, together, we’ll all be striving for the same goals for children under our care.

Nursery & Pre-School Places for Children Under 5 in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Are you looking for a nursery or pre-school place for your child in Edgbaston or near Birmingham?

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

We offer not only weekday childcare but also a complete early years education for children under five. We even support free, funded places for those eligible for free childcare through Government schemes. Leaps & Bounds Nursery and Pre-school is located in Edgbaston (B16), near Birmingham, but may also suit those living or working nearby in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. To request a guided tour of the nursery or to register your child for a place at the setting, please get started using an appropriate button below. We’re also on hand to answer any questions that you may have.

1. Parents is used on this site as a short-hand placeholder for parents, guardians, caregivers etc.

12 Reasons to Learn a Musical Instrument – for under-5s

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was only 6, as depicted here, when he started performing music at the imperial court.Have you ever noticed that children are naturally happy when music is playing? They also seem to be instinctively aware that music is fun and interactive. Whether singing along or jigging to the beat, an affinity with music is natural to most little ones. It is simply something to be enjoyed. However, the benefits of music go much deeper than simple enjoyment. So, today we give you the top reasons why every child should take music a step further and learn to play a musical instrument. Doing so will help in their learning and development, teach them new skills and enrich their lives profoundly. The benefits are simply amazing …

1. Learning a musical Instrument Aids Cognitive Development

Learning any new skill will boost cognitive development, in the very young in particular. Learning a musical instrument takes that to a whole new level, though, as it has so many facets. The children are learning a new skill, playing notes while reading music, focusing on details, working out the time signature, notation, phrasing, rhythm, tempo and more, all at the same time! It’s a huge thing to accomplish and a really good way to get brain synapses firing — incredibly good exercise for the developing brain.

2. It Supports the EYFS Curriculum

It's never too early to introduce children to playing music.Learning to play a musical instrument helps with so many aspects of the EYFS, which governs the excellent curriculum for under-fives in England. In fact, it helps towards all seven focus areas contained within the EYFS education and development framework. From helping with reading, mathematics, communication, creativity, understanding the world, personal and social development and much more, music ticks all the EYFS boxes. As such, it’s a powerful tool to help children reach their best potential — in many different areas.

3. Learning Music Enhances Reading Skills

Although printed music can look and be complex to the uninitiated, it can also be very simple when you’re starting out — once someone has explained what the notation actually means. The more simple rules will then be easy to follow, even for the young. Learning to read a new printed music piece will give children’s developing brains a really good workout but, before long, it can be mastered with focus and attention to detail. Importantly, learning to play music and reading a book both develop the left side of the brain. So, it follows that doing one activity will, in turn, help a person with the other. What’s more, that part of the brain is also linked to reasoning and the processing of language.

Did you know that Mozart was only 5 when he composed his first concerto? Having started learning piano at just 3, he was performing at the imperial court by the age of 6.

4. It Boosts Maths Skills

Similarly, printed music contains all the instructions you need for rhythm, the length that notes are held for, the tempo of the music and so on. All of it is based on mathematics, so learning to read and play music can only help children to see and understand maths working — in a really tangible way.

5. It Improves Well-being

Expressing mood through playing music improves well-being and reduces stress.Playing an instrument is a great outlet for emotions. A carefully chosen piece can let a person lose themselves in the beauty of a melody or, at the other end of the scale, vent anger or frustration via through a louder, more energetic piece. This outlet for emotions is really healthy and one that’s hard to beat when you think about it. Expressing your mood in such a positive way can only improve well-being and reduce stress. It can also be virtually meditative when you really get into playing certain types of musical piece.

6. It Allows Self-Expression

Every child is different and allowing them to learn a new skill, like playing a musical instrument, will also allow them to express their own, unique character. Playing an instrument allows them to be creative, to show emotion through their treatment of the music. This is never more true then when they eventually progress to create their own melodies. Music creation is a truly expressive opportunity.

7. It Can Boost Self-Confidence

Mastering a piece of music on a musical instrument can help children improve self-confidence and self-esteem.Mastering a piece of music on a musical instrument will give children a great sense of achievement. In so doing, it’ll boost their confidence and self-esteem amongst both their peers and adults. This alone may give them the courage to keep going and get even better — and to try other new skills.

8. It Helps with Socialising

As soon as children have learned to accomplish a melody on an instrument, they can join forces to perform songs together. Through music clubs, groups, band practise, duetting or potentially even full orchestras, children will make new friends, often outside of their usual circle, and learn new socialising skills. Collaboration and cooperation, teamwork, leadership and support roles all have their place and it’s important for children to be flexible enough to learn how to do each of them. Chatting, debating, brain-storming, learning good manners and encouraging each other are also great social skills to master. All are possible when learning music as part of a wider group.

9. It Improves Coordination

Coordination of hands, fingers and also hand-eye-coordination are all needed when playing a musical instrument.Coordination of arms, hands, fingers and also hand-eye-coordination are all needed when playing a musical instrument. Indeed, playing an instrument requires immense cooperation between the brain and body. Practising the playing of music can only help a child to improve their coordination and the synapses that control it.

10. Music Boosts Listening Skills

Playing and listening to music require a certain level of concentration to hear and analyse the results, particularly in the case of playing. This is great practise and will soon teach children that a close listening focus allows discovery of finer details and a broader message that might otherwise have been missed. This has real-life applications, whether listening to the detail of a lesson, conversation, debate or even TV documentary. Deeper meaning and fine detail are all discoverable once children learn to listen more carefully. Indeed, it’s a great skill to take with them through life, including into business when they’re older.

11. It’s a Window to Different Cultures & History

Music takes almost infinite forms. It has been inspired and affected by so many different countries and cultures over countless years. Such influences can be glimpsed when you listen to music. Some influences are clear to hear while others are more subtle. It’s all there to be discovered when children get involved and listen to or, better still, play it. Music from different cultures is a great introduction to those cultures for children who are learning about them for the first time. Music can even take you off to far away places in your mind’s eye, when you listen to it.

12. It Teaches Important Life Lessons

Learning to play music teaches children important life lessons like practise makes perfect.Learning to play music teaches children important life lessons like practise makes perfect, the benefits of trial and error, the value of collaboration and so on. Each of these can often lead to real, tangible results. Learning that something that looks difficult can be overcome through persistence, patience, focus and effort is incredibly important for children to grasp. It can also be applied to many other areas of their learning.

Bonus Reason — It’s Fun!

Let’s not forget; playing music can be great fun — especially when played with friends, in a band or orchestra. At the minimum it could make for a great hobby and, who knows; it could even lead to a career in music or performance of some kind.

Music at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston

At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, we’re well aware of the benefits of music, learning to play an instrument and indeed any kind of sensory experience for under-fives. It all helps with their early learning and development and, in any case, they love it! Whether ‘tinging’ a triangle, shaking maracas, jangling a tambourine or tapping out a rhythm on a make-shift drum, they all have fun when we introduce them to music and rhythm. We’d love it if parents encouraged them to transition to more advanced instruments like recorders, keyboards, ocarinas, guitars etc. If so, it’ll pay huge dividends for them in the future and we’d be happy to encourage them on their musical journey.

Funded Childcare Places in our Edgbaston Nursery & Preschool Near Birmingham

Are you looking for funded childcare places in a nursery or preschool near Edgbaston, Birmingham?

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

Leaps & Bounds is a nursery and preschool located in Edgbaston (B16). We support all the Government childcare funding schemes for eligible families and offer paid-for nursery places too. So, if you’re looking for a childcare place for your child in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please get in touch using one of the options below and we’ll be happy to discuss next steps:

Top 10 Childcare Funding Schemes – At a Glance

Today, we shine the spotlight on what we believe are the top 10 childcare funding schemes, available in England, for eligible children. Many also apply across the whole UK or at least have similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some of the options are widely available, meaning easy, free funding with no need for families to jump through difficult eligibility barriers. The first two childcare funding options, for example, seem to be by far the easiest to obtain for most families. Others may suit in certain circumstances, for example if you are on benefits, studying as a student, and so on. Take a look …

The Top 10 Childcare Funding Schemes – At a Glance

Tax-free Childcare Scheme

What’s Available:
Up to £2,000 in free childcare funding is available per year, per UK child (£4,000 if the child has a disability). For children up to 11 (16 if disabled).

Eligibility:
Widely available as a parent, and partner if they have one, can each earn up to £100k per annum and still be eligible.

How Funding is Accessed:
Accessed via an online Childcare account. The parent, relative or even friend deposits 80% to fund childcare and the Government tops up the remaining 20%, free.

Click here for more information.

“15 Hours” of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
15 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours total) for all 3 & 4-year-olds living in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Available for all children aged 3 or 4 living in England.

How Funding is Accessed:
Contact your childcare provider or apply via your local council.

Click here for more information.

“30 Hours” of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
30 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (1140 hours total) for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds living in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Eligibility depends upon household income; generally speaking, you cannot claim if you or your partner earn £100k or over, or less than £152 per week (that figure is lower if under 23). You can usually claim through this scheme at the same time as claiming Tax-Free Childcare (or Childcare vouchers), or free childcare via Universal Credit. Other rules and exceptions apply.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply online here.

Click here for more information.

“15 Hours” of Free Childcare for 2-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
15 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours total) for eligible 2-year-olds in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Only parents receiving certain Government benefits are usually eligible to claim. Exceptions include 2-year-olds if: looked after by local authorities; subject to an ECH plan; in receipt of Disability Living Allowance; they’ve left care under certain types of order. Some non-UK citizens are also eligible in certain circumstances.

How Funding is Accessed:
Contact your childcare provider or apply via your local council.

Click here for more information.

Childcare Vouchers (Employer-Supported Childcare)

What’s Available:
Funding for childcare is available through participating employers, for children up to 15 or 16 if disabled. You can use up to £55 per week of your earnings, which will not be subject to National Insurance or income tax. How much you are eligible for depends on earnings and the date you joined the scheme.

Eligibility:
Closed to new applicants but still available to those enrolled before 4 October 2018 if eligible. Cannot be claimed at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare.

How Funding is Accessed:
Accessed via participating employers. Can be funded through a salary sacrifice approach.

Click here for more information.

Tax Credits for Childcare

What’s Available:
If eligible, those already claiming under the Tax Credits system can claim back up to 70% of eligible childcare costs, up to £122.50 each week for 1 child, or up to £210 per week for more than one.

Eligibility:
Closed to new applicants but existing claimants of Tax Credits may still apply. New claimants must claim instead under Universal Credit (see below).

How Funding is Accessed:
For those who are still eligible to claim, the funding is paid direct to their bank or building society account. Follow the link below for more details.

Click here for more information.

Childcare Funding through Universal Credit

What’s Available:
If eligible, you can claim back up to 85% of childcare costs, up to £646.35 per month for one child or £1108.04 each month if you are claiming for more than one.

Eligibility:
You and your partner, if you have one, must have a child under 17, be working and claiming Universal Credit. There are exceptions to the above and other eligibility terms also apply. Not available if you’re already claiming Tax-Free Childcare or Tax Credits. Earnings and savings/investments also affect how much you may receive.

How Funding is Accessed:
You need to claim back your childcare costs (so pay for them first). You can only go back 3 months, so must keep on top of your claims.

Click here for more information.

Student Childcare Grant

What’s Available:
Up to 85% of your childcare costs are available as a non-repayable grant (max. is £183.75 per week for 1 child or £315.03 per week for two+. Correct for academic year 2022/23). Payable in addition to standard undergraduate student finance.

Eligibility:
Students must be permanent residents in England, studying full-time in higher education and be eligible for undergraduate student finance based on income. They must not in receipt of a postgraduate loan. The childcare grant is for dependent children under 15 (under 17 if they have special needs). Not available if also claiming certain other childcare funding.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply at the same time as applying for student finance via your Student Finance Account.

Click here for more information.

Learner Support Scheme

What’s Available:
What’s available depends on your specific circumstances. It’s not designed specifically to fund childcare, but can be used for it.

Eligibility:
You must be a a parent over 20, studying in further education up to and including Level 3, and facing financial hardship to be eligible.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply via your learning provider (e.g. college).

Click here for more information.

Care to Learn Scheme

What’s Available:
Up to £160 (or £175 if living in London) is available per child, per week, for those living in England. The funding can even help to fund a taster period of up to 5 days at the childcare provider and travel to/from the provider.

Eligibility:
You must be the child’s main carer and be under 20 when you begin your course. You must be studying on a publicly-funded course (N.B. not including higher education courses at university) at specific types of education provider e.g. schools, sixth forms and some colleges. Strict rules apply around attendance of both the course and the childcare sessions.

How Funding is Accessed:
For application instructions, click here.

Click here for more information.

Funded Childcare at Leaps & Bounds Nursery & Preschool, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Our Edgbaston nursery & preschool supports all valid childcare funding options

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

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.We support all relevant childcare funding schemes for eligible families at Leaps & Bounds nursery and preschool in Edgbaston (B16). We offer the very best weekday childcare in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Please get in touch using one of the options below, for example to get started with your childcare enquiry or application. We’ll be happy to show you around, answer questions and help with your funding and nursery/preschool application.

E&OE. Please note that information is given in good faith and, to our knowledge, is correct at time of writing (November 2022). This is only a quick guide, though, so families will need to do their own. more detailed research to check for eligibility etc.

Halloween Fun for Under-Fives!

Halloween on 31st October is a great time to prepare some fun activities for children, including under-fives.Halloween arrives on 31st October, so it’s a great time to prepare for some fun activities for little ones!

Halloween Dressing-Up

Children will absolutely love dressing up in Halloween-themed fancy dress outfits. Although available online commercially, many can instead be home-made. That will not only save money but also give children another fun, creative activity to take part in. For example, a sheet with eye holes strategically cut will make a very effective ghost outfit that children will love wearing. Before you know it they’ll be whizzing around, shouting ‘boo’ at everyone and trying to make them jump. They’ll simply love it and yet it is so simple.

Witches’ outfits are also easy to accomplish, using existing black clothing and an easy-to-make pointy hat made from cardboard and sticky tape. For extra effect, any older clothing that your child no longer needs can have edges cut (by an adult) with scissors so they look ragged and full of character.

Many Halloween costumes are easy to make at home. Some families even make them for the family's pets!Children’s imaginations can run riot with Halloween fancy dress. There are so many themes they can choose from. They could dress up as a witch, a wizard, a character from Harry Potter, a ghoul, zombie or wicked clown from one of the horror films, Harley Quinn, the Joker or even just a skeleton. That’s easy to achieve with some black clothing, white paint and some creative make-up. Many such things can be made at home for little or no cost, requiring only creativity and a little imagination on the part of children and supervising adults.

Halloween Party Time!

Even better — get children together, in their fancy dress, for a Halloween-themed party! Parents and children can even enjoy the preparation itself, making the venue look spooky and atmospheric. For example, adapted cotton wool or commercial offerings can be used to stretch spider webs and cobwebs over objects. Plastic spiders, insects, bats and critters are inexpensive to buy online or from many supermarkets during October too. These can be strategically placed at the scene of the party, along with black balloons, Halloween banners and bunting plus bat and spider window stickers. You can buy Halloween decoration kits and even Halloween photo booth props very inexpensively online.

Add some low lighting provided by some inexpensive Halloween themed string lighting or LED candles  and some spooky music — and the scene is set for a wonderful, very atmospheric Halloween party for the little ones.

Children will enjoy both the Halloween party and the preparations for it!Party bags for all the party guests are also another opportunity for some fun for the children. Some of those plastic spiders, bats and critters will be appreciated (avoid choking hazards, though), perhaps along with other Halloween accessories like stickers and pretend tattoos. Little ones could even put together a little bag of Halloween cookies for children to take home (see more about those below).

Halloween Party Food

Food can even be themed for Halloween, whether at a Halloween party or simply at tea time at home on the day. Little ones can also be involved in this. For example, pumpkin soup is right on theme and is pretty easy to make with help from Mum or Dad (recipes are available online). Children can help scoop out the flesh from pumpkins once adults have done the cutting part.

Children will love helping to make Halloween themed biscuits and other food.They can also help parents make themed cookies, which is another Halloween food example. Bat cookie anyone? Or how about an iced biscuit that looks like a ghost? These can all be made into fun and even educational activities for young children — with adult supervision for safety, of course. Helping to mix the cookie mixture, designing the spooky shapes and adding the creative icing are all good, fun activities for little ones.

Be mindful to take care of children’s safety around the kitchen, heat sources and sharp things like knives and scissors, though.

Carved Pumpkins

Going back to pumpkins, of course another great activity that kids will adore — even really little ones — is decorating carved pumpkins. Families can even pick their own locally (here are some pumpkin patches and farms around Edgbaston and Birmingham). Obviously, for safety, adults will need to do the part where the flesh and shaped holes are carved with sharp tools. Thereafter, though, children can get involved with tasks like scooping out the loosened flesh with a spoon, perhaps Carved Halloween pumpkin designs. They can also be decorated by children using markers, dye or paint.saving seeds so they can be grown into new pumpkin plants next year, putting aside flesh to make soup and — the best part — decorating the pumpkin. The outside ‘face’ or other design can be outlined, perhaps, using acrylic paint or a spirit marker. Even the inside can be coloured, using food dye, for extra effect once illuminated later when it’s dark. Children can decorate the pumpkins as much or as little as they like, whether simply outlining features with a black marker or adding self-adhesive stars or even glitter. Once ready, children can put an LED (fake) candle inside to illuminate the pumpkin when it’s dark. Or, if it’s being placed outside away from children, animals and anything flammable, real tea lights can be used inside the pumpkin, so long as adults supervise lighting and ensure that everyone is kept well clear thereafter. Either way, illuminated pumpkins will be a lovely thing to see and something that children will find fascinating, enthralling and very atmospheric. And, if they’ve been involved in their creation, they are something children can feel be proud of.

A Very Special Night for Children

A youngster helping with the pumpkin decoration and design.All in all, Halloween can be a very special and enjoyable night for children of all ages. Even the tiniest children will find joy in dressing up, getting together with friends to compare outfits, seeing the Halloween-themed decorations and helping to make pumpkins or spooky biscuits! If you’re thinking of organising something for your little one(s), ensure you start preparations in advance so you’re all set by the time the 31st of October arrives. Then, get ready for a memorable night!

A High Quality Nursery & Pre-School in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

Our exceptional Edgbaston childcare service will give your baby or under-five child the very best start in life.

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

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted. Leaps & Bounds is a highly-rated childcare nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We’re also very convenient to those living or working near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick We accept recognised childcare vouchers and support all Government childcare funding schemes. Examples include free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds, free childcare for 3 & 4-year-olds, student parents using student childcare grants and tax-free childcare for those who are eligible. To register for a nursery place for your child, request a guided tour or simply ask a question, please get in touch via one of the following:

30+ Food Safety & Hygiene Tips for Parents

Poor standards around food preparation could make children very ill, or even prove fatal.Hygiene and safety around food preparation is important to everyone’s health and wellbeing. However, it’s even more important for babies, infants and toddlers. At this age they are fragile and have low resilience against bacteria, toxins and potential food poisoning. The fall-out from poor standards around food preparation could therefore make little ones very ill or, in the worst cases, even prove fatal. With that in mind, today’s article outlines ways that parents/guardians of children can take appropriate precautions when preparing and serving food to little ones.

Hygiene in the Kitchen

It’s important that any food preparation is done in a clean and hygienic environment. This helps to prevent the spread of germs and cross-contamination of foods.

  • Always clean surfaces before preparing or serving food on them.Always clear and clean your surfaces.
  • Ensure pets to not walk on surfaces where food may be prepared or eaten.
  • Make sure, if using a cleaning product like a spray, that it does not come into contact with any of the foods or plate surfaces that food will go onto.
  • Make sure that all kitchen utensils are clean and have been washed in warm soapy water or in the dishwasher.
  • Remember to keep sinks clean and hygienic too.
  • Keep fridge and cupboard door handles, cooker knobs and hobs clean and hygienic.
  • Ensure that tea towels and hand towels are fresh and regularly washed to prevent the further spread of germs.

Personal Hygiene Around Food

There are also things that you can do on a personal level to keep hygiene and food safety levels high for your family:

  • Always wash hands before preparing food, and rinse them well.Tie long hair back to avoid it coming into contact with food.
  • Always wash hands before preparing food, and rinse them well.
  • If you feel unwell, for example with a tummy bug, try and ask a family member or friend to help with food preparation so you avoid spreading germs to your child.
  • Ensure your fridge is set to the correct temperature to keep food cold and the door kept closed whenever possible.
  • Ensure the fridge is kept clean and always clear up spillages or leaks there right away.
  • Try to avoid smoking while preparing food. Second-hand smoke and smoke residue is not at all good for children.

Precautions Around Food Preparation

Preparation of the food itself is, of course, an important consideration when it comes to hygiene and avoiding germs getting into children’s meals.

Always wash fruit and vegetables before preparing. Peeling vegetables is also a good precaution.

  • Always wash your hands before preparing or handling food.
  • Wash vegetables, salad, fruit etc. and even peel some types of vegetable, particularly root vegetables that have been grown in earth.
  • Avoid giving eggs to children younger than 6 months of age. If giving chickens’ eggs to children aged 6 months or older, ensure they are stamped with the Red Lion or ‘British Lion Quality’ mark if serving raw or only lightly cooked. All other eggs must be thoroughly cooked i.e. so that the yolk and egg whites become firm. That includes eggs from ducks, geese and quails.
  • Make sure all foods are thoroughly cooked.
  • Pay particular care to the cooking of fish, seafood and shellfish, ensuring that it’s cooked thoroughly.
  • Allow the cooked food to cool for a short time, testing that it’s become lukewarm, before feeding it to your child. You can place the hot food in an airtight container and run it under cold water, stirring periodically, to cool it faster.

Cooling & Storing Food

A safe approach to food cooling and storage is also incredibly important for the wellbeing of you, your child and family.

  • Do not let pets on work surfaces or dining tables.Always store raw meat and fish away from other foods. Store each separately in covered containers on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This prevents drips falling onto other foods.
  • When saving cooked food to store in the fridge or freezer for later use, try to cool it as quickly as possible — ideally within one or two hours (N.B. for rice, see below) and put it straight into the fridge or freezer once cold.
  • Rice is a special case due to the possible build-up of toxins. It must be cooled within one hour and eaten within 24 hours. Never reheat rice more than once. Learn more about the dangers of reheating rice here.
  • If freezing foods, label and date them, so they can be used in an appropriate time frame.

Reheating Food

Reheating food also needs to be done in the right way in order to keep families safe and well:.

  • It's best to cook eggs until whites and yolk become firm.Do not reheat rice or cooked food more than once. As we said above, particular care needs to be taken with rice.
  • Always defrost frozen food thoroughly before cooking — either in the fridge overnight or by using defrost mode in a microwave.
  • When reheating food, always ensure it is the correct temperature for your child to eat otherwise it could burn them if too hot or not be safe to eat if not cooked sufficiently.
  • If reheating meals in the microwave, be very careful as it can retain the heat more and continue cooking even once taken out of the microwave.

Things Your Child Can Do

You should also inform and teach your child about hygiene and food safety. Leading by example and explaining why you’re going what you’re doing is a good approach.

  • Remind your child to wash their hands before they eat.Remind your child to wash their hands before they eat and that it’s a matter of hygiene.
  • Try to ensure your child is seated and calm for eating. A child who is running around or playing is at greater risk of choking when eating.
  • It goes almost without saying that you should avoid allowing children to eat when they are seated on the potty or toilet.

Food Safety, Hygiene & Quality Assurance At Leaps & Bounds Nursery

We follow best practices for food preparation at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and have a 5-star food hygiene rating.We do, of course, follow all best practices at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We are rated with the full 5 stars in terms of food hygiene and preparation and also won the Gold Quality Award, Birmingham City Council’s “Healthy Setting Award” and have completed various quality assurance schemes.

Nursery Places in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds: Ofsted-rated as a ‘Good’ Nursery & Pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham

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

If you are looking for high quality weekday childcare for your baby or child under five, ensure you choose a nursery that’s highly rated by Ofsted — Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and pre-school for example. Leaps & Bounds is officially a good nursery and pre-school, located in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.It is also very near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick, so will be convenient for childcare services if you live or work in any of those locations. We accept children funded through the Government schemes like 15 hours per week of free childcare for 2-year-olds, 15-30 hours per week of free childcare for  3 & 4-year-olds, childcare grants for students and tax-free childcare too (all subject to eligibility, of course). Interested?

Please choose a button to get started on a guided visit, nursery application or simply to find out more:

A Final Word

While this guide is primarily about hygiene around food, it would be remiss of us not to include the following additional reminders:

  • Only feed your child age-appropriate foods. This is particularly important when they are babies;
  • Avoid any known allergens (if your child is allergic) and any foods they are intolerant to;
  • Avoid foods that are known to be potentially harmful. For example, foods that are too high in salt, sugar and saturated fats, contain arsenic in the case of rice drinks, or contain mercury in the case of some fish/seafood. Choking hazards like whole nuts and olives are other examples to avoid. See our A-Z of foods to avoid giving your infant for more details.
  • Always check ingredients and age guidelines on food packaging, including formula milks.
  • Always ensure you are giving your baby or child a healthy, balanced, age-appropriate diet and one that uses portion sizes that are appropriate to their age and developmental stage.
  • Be vigilant when cooking to ensure your child is not exposed to dangers like hot ovens, hot hobs, boiling kettles, trailing electrical leads and so on.

Seasonal Allergies in Under-Fives - A Rough Guide

Seasonal allergies: how to recognise symptoms, causes and how to treat them.In our last post all about food allergies, we also briefly touched upon seasonal allergies in young children. Today, we take a closer look at those and explain how to recognise their symptoms, what causes them and perhaps most importantly, how to treat them. Also known as “Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis” and, in the case of pollen allergies, “Hay Fever”, seasonable allergies can be miserable for children affected. It’s therefore important to alleviate any symptoms, or at the very least find workarounds, wherever possible. Doing so will make affected children more comfortable and able to breathe more easily.

What are the Causes of Seasonal Allergies?

As the name suggests, seasonal allergies are more prevalent at certain parts of the year than others, usually being worse during spring, summer and/or autumn. They are caused by an allergic reaction to such things as tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen, dust mites, mould and pet dander, Seasonal allergies can be caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, mould and pet dander.which are present in the air that the child breathes. The child’s immune system treats such allergens as invaders, defensively reacting to them by releasing the protein histamine into the bloodstream as part of its wider physiological response. It is this specific protein that triggers the unwelcome symptoms experienced by the child.

Children can be more prone to seasonal allergies if they have a family history of allergies.

What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Children?

Itchy ear canals is one less common symptom of a seasonal allergy.The symptoms of seasonal allergy are similar, but not identical, to what we often refer to as having ‘a cold’. The most common symptoms of a seasonal allergy include nasal congestion, a clear, runny nose, an itchy nose, throat and/or roof of the mouth, sneezing and a ‘postnasal drip’ (dripping of mucus from the back of the nasal cavity directly into the throat). The latter can also cause persistent coughing, perhaps accompanied by wheezing and shortness of breath. Although similar to a cold in many respects, the symptoms of seasonal allergy are different in that they do not include a fever, any cough is usually a ‘dry’ one and nasal congestion is clear and watery rather than thick and cloudy as you might expect if the cause was a cold. Another difference is that a seasonal allergy may persist for weeks or even months, unlike a cold, which generally goes within a fortnight or so.

Sometimes seasonal allergy symptoms go on to trigger asthma for those who suffer from it. Children with eczema may also find symptoms worsening when they also have a seasonal allergy.

If a child develops shortness of breath or tightness in their chest, seek urgent medical advice in case the cause turns out to be something more serious than a seasonal allergy. It’s always best to be cautious with the health of little ones.

Children's eyes can also become red, puffy or watery during an episode of seasonal allergy.Children’s eyes can also become red, puffy or watery during an episode of seasonal allergy. They may also exhibit dark circles under their eyes and little ones may also seem more irritable, restless and generally fatigued. Another symptom often seen in children with a seasonal allergy is breathing with their mouth open — simply because their noses are so congested. Children with the disorder may also have trouble sleeping, develop headaches and even get itchy ear canals.

What is the Prevalence of Seasonal Allergies in Babies & Young Children?

Seasonal allergies can develop at any age.Although seasonal allergies can develop at any age, it’s important to stress that they are very rare among babies and infants aged up to 12 months. The earliest that seasonal allergies tend to start, if at all, is once children reach the age of 1 to 2. At that age, the seasonal allergen itself is most likely to be an indoor allergen like dust mites, mould or pet dander rather than outdoor allergens such as pollen or grass. If a child is going to develop a seasonal allergy, it’s much more likely to begin between 3 and 5, although most young children who do develop seasonal allergy may only start noticing symptoms as they get closer to the age of 10. Others may develop it as late as 20.

How Do You Treat the Symptoms of a Seasonal Allergy in Infants?

It’s important to try to relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies in babies, toddlers and children as it’s an unpleasant affliction to live with and can also lead to ear and/or sinus infections if left untreated.

Medical Treatments

GPs, paediatricians and allergists/immunologists can all help to professionally diagnose and treat seasonal allergies. Treatments prescribed by such medical professionals may include child-safe antihistamines, nasal, oral or ocular (eye) sprays and/or even allergy shots, however the latter are seldom prescribed for the very young. Children whose eyes suffer particularly badly around pollen may even be advised to wear goggles when venturing outdoors, to keep the pollen out.

How Parents/Carers Can Help at Home

There are also things that parents/carers can do to help little ones overcome the symptoms of seasonal allergies. The most powerful and obvious one is to keep little ones away from the sources of the allergens that affect them. Keeping track of pollen counts (often given along with the weather reports on TV) and keeping children indoors on days when the count is high is going to help. Keeping pollen out of the house is also key. Hence, vacuuming thoroughly with a vacuum that has a HEPA (high efficiency particulate arresting) filter, keeping windows closed, taking shoes off when coming indoors, regularly dusting, washing sheets, blankets, clothes and curtains etc. and showering/bathing children who’ve been outdoors will all help to reduce pollen, dust mites and other allergens within the household. Drying washing in a dryer, instead of drying it naturally outside, will also help to limit the amount of allergens around affected children. Children’s hair will also trap allergens, so this should also be washed regularly to remove such allergens. Some air conditioners have pollen filters that can help to reduce the number of allergens and dust in the air, as do some free-standing air purification machines.

If the problem is pet dander, pets may also need to receive regular baths or showers.If the problem is pet dander, pets may also need to receive regular baths or showers (where appropriate and safe for them to do so) to remove dander from their fur or feathers — perhaps once a week. If the child’s allergy to dander is severe, it may even mean that pets and children need to keep to their own areas around the home, and children taught not to cuddle or stroke them.

If dust mites are causing the allergic reaction in your child, consider switching pillows and blankets to synthetic materials or even use specialist fabrics and airtight covers that block the passage of dust mites in bedding. Regularly wash bedding, pillow cases and even soft toys on a hot setting and tumble dry rather than exposing them to pollens on an outdoor washing line. Carpeting and rugs can also be a host for dust mites so consider switching to another type of flooring that can be cleaned more thoroughly, e.g. laminate flooring. Specially-treated mop heads can even be sourced to clean them. Putting smaller items in the freezer for several hours each week will also kill dust mites, particularly if followed up by a hot wash and tumble dry afterwards.

Mould is also a common allergen.Mould is also a common allergen. Try to keep children away from it anyway (it’s not healthy) and, better still, eradicate it completely. Any leaks, plumbing or drainage issues should therefore be fixed, including outdoor defects if present, as they might otherwise allow the ingress of moisture to the indoors. Dehumidifiers will help to remove moisture from the air indoors, and adequate ventilation around the home will help to stop any mould taking hold (that’s if ventilation is practical, should the child also be allergic to pollen). Extractor fans in bathrooms, showers and kitchens will also help to vent moist air to the outside. Anti-mould paint, grout and sealants are available too, for problem areas like bathrooms, although bathroom and shower walls, tiling, shower curtains or screens etc. will be less likely to become habitats for mould if they’re squeegeed and dried after use. Drying damp towels and flannels in tumble driers will also help, rather than leaving them lying around. Also be mindful not to over-water houseplants, which should be kept away from affected children, and ensure any firewood is stored outdoors. Lastly, keep washing machine doors ajar when not in use and regularly clean the door seals as these can otherwise harbour mould.

We hope that this rough guide to seasonal allergies in under-fives has been useful to parents and carers of little ones.

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A Nursery Place at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Are you looking a nursery or pre-school place for your child in Edgbaston — or near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?

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

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Please get in touch if you are looking for a high quality childcare place for your baby, toddler or under-five child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Our wonderful weekday childcare service is also convenient if you live/work near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. Come and see the nursery in action and bring along your little one – we’ll be happy to show you around and to answer any questions. We’ll also be happy to clarify any free childcare options for 2-year-olds, 3 & 4-year-olds, students and more. Please choose a button below to get in touch or to get started with a place for your child:

Food Allergens for Infants - A Rough Guide

Amongst children aged up to two, the incidence of proven food allergies is only 5% and such reactions are generally mild.We previously looked at the types of food for parents to avoid giving infants and now follow up with a separate post about foods that are most likely to cause allergic reactions in the very young.

Some reactions towards food are also not true allergies, in the scientific sense. For those that are, it’s important to stress that severe allergic reactions (a.k.a. ‘Anaphylaxis’) in infants under one are rare. However such severe reactions should always be treated as a medical emergency. Even amongst children aged up to two, though, the incidence of proven food allergies is only 5% and such reactions are generally mild. Nonetheless, parents, carers and guardians of infants will naturally want to be cautious. Today’s post discusses the food types that most commonly cause allergic reactions and how they can be introduced to infants.

Severe allergic reactions (Anaphylaxis) in infants under one are rare, however such reactions should be treated as a medical emergency.

Symptoms to Look Out For

So, what are the symptoms of an allergic reaction? The NHS lists symptoms like sneezing, wheezing, coughing and a blocked or runny nose as possible signs of an allergic reaction. Itchy, red, watery eyes or a red, itchy rash are also possible signs, as are worsening symptoms of eczema or asthma.

The Most Common Food Allergens

According to the NHS, the 8 food types that are most likely to cause allergic reactions are:

Cows’ milkEggs
Gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, oats etc.)Nuts including peanuts*
Seeds & seed derivatives*Soya
Shellfish*Fish

* We touched upon some of these ingredients in our A-Z Guide to Foods to Avoid Giving Infants but will mention the following again: seeds and nuts, including peanuts, should only be served to under-fives crushed, ground or as a ‘butter’ as they are otherwise a choking hazard; eggs should be avoided before the age of 6 months and thereafter never be served raw/lightly cooked except if they exhibit the Red Lion or “British Lion Quality” stamp; shellfish should also never be served to infants raw or lightly cooked.

Always read food labels carefully.

Eggs are one of the 8 food types that are most likely to cause allergic reactions, according to the NHS.Mustard, celery, the preservative/antioxidant sulphur dioxide, the legume lupin and molluscs are the next most common food allergens after those listed in the table above. Kiwi, the fruit, is also known to cause allergic reactions in some infants, however is apparently the only potential allergen out of those listed above that doesn’t have to be listed, by law, on the ingredients list of pre-packaged food products.

When to Start Watching Out for Allergens

The NHS recommends slowly introducing the food types above, usually from about the age of 6 months if they’re developmentally ready. This is the age when babies most commonly start the process of weaning i.e. moving – gradually – towards eating solids. Start only when the infant is well, including having a good skin condition, because eczema is a possible sign of an existing allergy. The NHS strongly recommends that you talk to a GP or health visitor before introducing new foods to infants who are already known to have an allergy diagnosis or family history of allergies, including eczema, asthma and hay fever.

Any ‘new’ food types, particularly known allergens from the list above, should be introduced to the infant only one at a time, preferably early in the day so that you have more time to monitor for any reactions. Accepted advice is to start only with a tiny initial amount and monitor for possible symptoms of an allergic reaction. When the introduction of peanuts was delayed to a later time in the child's development, the risk of developing an allergic reaction to them increased.Amounts can later be increased, bit by bit over the following days, if the infant is found to be tolerant. And, of course, a new food type can then be tried only once the previous one has ‘passed the test’. However, bear in mind that some allergic reactions are far from immediate. Known as non-IgE food allergies, their symptoms can take anywhere from 2 hours to 3 days to show. So, the message is to be very careful and methodical when it comes to introducing new foods to your infant.1

1: More detail about IgE (rapid) and non-IgE (delayed) allergy symptoms and other useful information about the introduction of potential allergens to infants can be read in a very good article by baby and child nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed.

Once introduced and shown to be tolerated by the infant, the new foods should then remain a part of the child’s usual diet and be eaten regularly. This minimises the chances of the child developing an allergy to such food types later on. Interestingly, where the introduction of peanuts and hens’ eggs has been delayed to a later time in the child’s development, the risk of developing an allergic reaction to them has actually increased. So, the risks need to be carefully balanced.

Special Mention: Milk Conundrums

The NHS recommends “exclusive breastfeeding or First Infant Formula” milk for babies during their first six monthsThe NHS recommends “exclusive breastfeeding or First Infant Formula” milk for babies during their first six months (and, indeed, breastfeeding has many benefits). Breastfeeding is not always possible though, for one reason or another, which is where the mention of First Infant Formula comes in. However, with standard First Infant Formula Milk being based on cows’ milk, and cows’ milk being one of the food types that infants are most commonly allergic or intolerant to, a healthcare professional will need to be consulted in the event of a reaction. For those found to have Cows’ Milk Allergy (‘CMA’), alternatives like Hypoallergenic Formula Milk, Lactose-Free Formula Milk or even Soya Formula Milk may be suggested by the GP/healthcare professional. However, it’s important for such milk alternatives to be given only under professional medical supervision as there are important and specific considerations around each. We explain more about those in a separate where we outline the different types of milk and formula for babies and infants.

Another milk-related conundrum that nursing mothers may have is whether they should avoid potential allergens themselves in case it passes to the infant through breast milk. The NHS’s advice in this regard is succinct and straight forward:

“If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you do not need to avoid foods that can trigger allergic reactions (including peanuts), unless you’re allergic to them.” (NHS)

Please note: We hope guide is a useful starting point for parents/guardians who want to learn more about safely introducing little ones to new food types. However, it is a guide only and you should do your own research. Talk to your GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional if you need professional advice or guidance in regard to your child’s diet and any allergy- or health-related issues. Always check food labels and contact the emergency services urgently if your child exhibits signs of a severe allergic reaction.

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

Healthy snacks are included in the fees at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston/Birmingham.Meals at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery are freshly made, using high quality, nutritious ingredients, which are prepared for us by award-winning early years caterers. Healthy snacks, meals and drinks are all included in our nursery fees, as appropriate. We cater for all dietary needs (e.g. vegan, vegetarian etc.) and, of course, are mindful — and hugely careful — about any allergies amongst the little ones. We also participate in the ‘Startwell’ programme, which encourages our children and families in the Birmingham area to eat healthy meals and to live healthy lifestyles.

Searching for the best nurseries or 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 Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Please get in touch if you would like to visit Leaps & Bounds or to enrol your baby, toddler or under-five child at this excellent childcare setting. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham but are equally convenient for those who live or work in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Why not bring your child along to see the nursery in action and to ask us any questions that you may have. You can also apply for a place if you’re ready to make a decision about your childcare. Please choose a button below to get started:

Next Time

Today’s article focuses on food that may cause allergic reactions in infants. We subsequently follow up with a great guide to Seasonal Allergies in Under-Fives. Instead of being caused by food, seasonal allergies are caused by such things as pollen, dust, mould and pet dander at certain times of the year. Click the green link above to learn about symptoms, causes and ways to help children affected by such allergies.

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, 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/allergens. 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 & SmethwickLeaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.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 Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.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: