15 Ways to Manage a Fussy Eater
It can be frustrating when children refuse to eat particular foods.It can be frustrating when children refuse to eat particular foods, often seemingly for no apparent reason. Much of it is new to them, though, if they’ve only recently been weaned off milk. So, firstly don’t get stressed about it. Refusing certain foods initially is quite normal for the very young. Often, all that is needed is a strategy for dealing with finicky eating and a little patience. Let’s take a look, today, at measures parents or carers can take to manage children who are fussy eaters. After all, it’s imperative that they have a healthy, balanced diet.

1. Be Patient

It may take as many as 10-15 attempts before a child will accept and trust a new food, particularly if it has a taste and texture that’s new to their palette. The secret is for them to keep trying it over a few days and weeks. More often than not, they’ll eventually accept it and indeed even realise that they like it if you’ve added it to their plate multiple times over an extended period.

2. Make Allowances for an Acquired Taste

It may take as many as 10-15 attempts before a child will accept and trust a new food.Similarly, some foods are an acquired taste, i.e. one that’s initially not liked, but is later appreciated and enjoyed. Avocados have a taste that’s quite subtle and delicate, for example. Because of that, some youngsters think they are bland — but may well love their subtle flavour and texture once they’re older. That’s an acquired taste. So, again, it’s worth encouraging your child to keep trying foods even if they don’t think they like them in the beginning.

3. Change the Format

Children will refuse some foods based purely on what they look like. For whatever reason, how they look may not appeal to the child. When this happens, one easy solution is to disguise the particular food type next time around. Examples would be chopping it up smaller, mixing it in with something else or even blitzing or liquidising it to use in soup, purée or sauce. They may then not even realise that they’re eating the food they refused previously.

4. Sneaky Pairing

Sometimes you can try disguising a food.If your child loves one food but not initially another, try using food bridges. This is when you pair one food with another food that you know they already like. You can start small and gradually increase the amount of the ‘new’ food. Adding cheese to potato or pasta is one example. Adding a small garnish of finely chopped herbs, vegetables or even fruit to pasta, rice, pulses or meat is another. These may slip under the child’s radar and this will help with gradual acceptance.

5. Make it Attractive to the Child

Similarly, making a new food attractive to the child may help him or her accept it. This could entail using colourful foods to form attractive designs on the plate, rainbow colours, creatively shaped foods and so on.

6. Get Children to Engage with their Food

You can make the food into fun pictures, faces, etc.You could even make the food into fun pictures, all entirely made of the food you want them to eat. For example, peas could be made to represent a hill, broccoli could represent a wooded area, the yolk of a fried egg could represent the sun and so on. This approach will help children to see a fun aspect of food, and to engage more directly with it.

7. Food Themes

You could even ‘theme’ how meals look. For example, one meal could depict a scene with a rocket ready for launch (the rocket could be a carrot). Another food theme might be a treasure island, and so on.

8. Get Children Involved

Involve fussy eaters in food preparation, choosing foods, deciding how they are displayed on the plate and so on.You could even get children involved in the creativity and choices around food. With the requisite care around safety, you could involve them in food preparation, choosing foods, deciding how they are displayed on the plate and so on. This will again get them more engaged around food and make it into a fun, creative activity. Children will love that. Remember, though, that this should only be taken so far. After all, you do not want to encourage them to always ‘play’ with their food.

9. Use Fun Plates & Bowls

Plates and bowls and even cutlery that feature fun designs and characters may also help children enjoy the process of eating more. Perhaps a food they’re not yet convinced about could be used to cover the face of their favourite character. You can then encourage them to eat that food type so that they reveal the face and gradually they’ll reveal the whole scene if they eat all their food.

10. Praise Them

Praise will sometimes do wonders when it comes to little ones eating.When your child eats something that they’ve not been keen on eating before, give them positive feedback as this will encourage them. A well done here and a good job there will sometimes do wonders.

11. Send Good Signals

Similarly, sending good signals around food will help to encourage children to eat, for example, referring to a particular food as yummy or delicious. Food needs to be perceived always as a positive thing.

12. Try Home Growing Activities

Getting your child involved in growing food at home may also encourage them to try it.Getting your child involved in growing vegetables, herbs and perhaps even fruit at home may also encourage them to actually eat it. They’ll get an enormous sense of satisfaction if they grow something from seed, nurture it and finally get to eat it. It’ll also teach them new skills and about nature and where some food comes from.

13. Explain the Importance of Food

When they’re a little older and have good language skills, you could remind children why food is so important — giving them much-needed minerals and vitamins, for example, giving them energy, making them strong, ensuring their brain works efficiently and so on. This can be a powerful approach and you may even find them saying such facts back to you if you persevere.

14. Walk the Walk

It’s one thing telling children all the reasons they should eat a good, healthy, balanced meal. However, demonstrating that you are doing so is even better! So, lead by example. Ensure they are seeing that you too are eating a good mix of different foods and be a good role model. You could even educate them about each food type along the way. For example, you could point out that you’re eating potato because it’s high in starch (good for energy to power the body), or cheese because it’s high in calcium (good for bones and teeth) and so on.

15. Offer a Reward

If all else fails, offer a reward to a child who isn’t really cooperating over a particular food. For example, you could say, if you eat all your peas, we’ll go to the swings or similar.

Healthy Eating at Little Cedars Nursery

A healthy, balanced diet is important and never more so than in children's formative years.At Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham we know how finicky young children can sometimes be. So, we too occasionally employ some of the tactics described above. After all, food and a healthy, balanced diet is important and never more so than in children’s formative years. Study after study has shown this to be the case. Read our Healthy Eating Guide for Under-Fives for more details.

Our High Quality Nursery & Pre-school in Streatham

Near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.If you are looking for the best nursery or pre-school for your baby, toddler or preschooler in the Streatham area, please get in touch. We offer high quality weekday childcare for under-fives and the nursery/pre-school is also conveniently close if you are living or working in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood. Get in touch using the buttons below to apply for a place, arrange a tour of the setting or simply to ask any questions. We’ll be happy to help.

20 Ways to Prepare Children for School

A guide to the ways parents can help prepare under-5s for starting school in Reception Year at age 5.In a follow-up to last month’s post about transitioning under-fives to nursery or pre-school, we now outline 20 ways parents can help prepare children for starting school as they approach the age of five. We’ve broken this down into a list of 20 easy-to-action suggestions:

1. A Good Early Years Education

Our absolute topmost tip is to ensure that children attend a good nursery/pre-school well before the age of five. Study after study has shown that a good early years education gives little ones a massive head start in terms of school readiness, with long-term benefits continuing even into adulthood.

2. Help Learning at Home

Parental involvement with children's early years education has also been shown to boost achievement, morale, attitude, behaviour and social skills.Parental involvement with children’s early years education has also been shown to boost achievement, morale, attitude, behaviour and social skills enormously. These are all things that will help them to hit the ground running once they start school. Home learning is even more powerful when designed to synchronise with what children are learning at their early years setting or school (like a two-pronged approach).

3. Read With Them

Reading with children in their early years can help boost language skills by 8 months — before they're even five!Reading with children, well ahead of them beginning school, has also been shown to boost their language skills, incredibly by the equivalent of as much as 8 months before they’re even five! The key is to read with them; not just to them. Learn more about the benefits of reading with under-fives here.

4. Forewarn Them

Forewarning children that they will be starting school around the age of five is also a sensible thing to do. It should be mentioned multiple times before they reach the age of five, so children learn to expect and accept it. Just treat it as normal (which, of course, it is to you and I) and be enthusiastic about it.

5. Listen Up

Children will fit in better at school if they are well prepared for it.Listen to any reservations your child may have about the prospect of starting school. Listening is important, so be on the look-out for any concerns and reservations they may have.

6. Answer Questions

Try to read between the lines too, as they may not be able to fully articulate everything they’re feeling at such a young age. Answer any questions they may have about school and take time to ensure they understand the answers.

7. Reassure Them

At all times reassure children when discussing anything about starting school and life there once they’ve started. Put their minds at rest. Focus on the positives. Mention the many benefits of school, so they look forward to it rather than getting anxious about it. After all, it’s fun, educational, they will make lots of new friends and there will be lots of new equipment to play with — and so on. You can also mention your own positive memories of school so that they know you’ve been through it yourself.

8. Encourage Independence

Nurturing children's independence well ahead of them beginning school will really help them.Children will greatly benefit in Reception Year at school if they’re already independent when they start. So, nurturing aspects of their independence well ahead of them beginning school is a good policy. For example, ensuring they know how to independently look after personal hygiene, dress themselves, tie shoe laces, dress, use the toilet, pack their bag and so on. If they can do this before they start school, it will help them enormously.

9. Encourage Social Skills

Social skills are another thing to nurture in children well before they begin school. Communication skills will help them to get on. Good manners, politeness and knowing right from wrong will also help them fit in, make friends and be positively viewed from the ‘get go’.

10. Identify A Friend

Ensuring children know a friendly face when they begin school will help them settle in better.Parents/guardians will also be wise to identify one or more of their children’s friends (or potential friends) that will also be starting school at the same time. Ensure they meet up and play regularly, before they’ve started school. In this way, there will be a friendly face at the school from the moment they start. It’ll help them feel more at home and less alone.

11. Show Them a Prospectus/Brochure/Website

It’s also a wise idea for children to acquaint themselves as much as possible with their new school, before they actually start. Therefore, obtaining a prospectus, brochure and/or taking a good look at the school’s website together would be an excellent idea for children. It’ll really help them to know what to expect.

12. Visit Ahead of Starting

Even better is a physical visit. Schools will offer open days or one can usually be arranged for children and their parents. Having a tour will help children get to know their way around the school, see the facilities, ask questions and bring the school into much clearer focus for the child. It’ll make it more tangible and less of a daunting prospect for the child if they already know it. Seeing the facilities and equipment may even excite them.

13. Pre-Sync Children’s Body Clocks

Getting enough sleep is essential for children's success at school.Several weeks before they start school, children should start to synchronise their day with the timings of the new school day. This should include getting up time in the morning and ideally even timings for lunch and suchlike. In this way, children’s body clocks will have adjusted in good time, before they actually start.

14. Ensure They Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is critically important for children. After all, they do not want to end up struggling to stay awake during their school lessons. Therefore setting a sensible bedtime — and sticking to it — is crucially important. A gradual wind-down towards bedtime will help them sleep well as will the avoidance of electronic screens in the run-up to bedtime.

15. Prepare Their Uniform/Clothing

Ensure that uniform, PE kit, stationery, lunch box & backpack etc. are all ready and labelled.Ensuring children have everything they need, at least a little ahead of starting in Reception, is a good approach. Check that you have all items of their uniform, PE kit, any stationery, lunch box if appropriate, backpack or bag and so on. Is everything marked with your child’s name? Usually it should be.

16. Do a Dummy School Run

Close to the time the child will start at their new school, it is a good idea for parents/guardians to do a dummy run to the school at the actual times the child will eventually be dropped off and picked up. In this way, parents/guardians can ensure that they won’t be late, which might otherwise cause more stress for both themselves and their child. It’s important for the first day, in particular, to be as stress-free as possible.

17. Help Them to Pre-Pack

Getting your child involved in actually packing their backpack or school bag (with supervision) will help them to acquaint themselves with everything in it. That way, if they need something when they’re at school, they’ll know they have it and where they can find it. Doing this the night before, with the exception of food if it needs to be kept refrigerated overnight, will mean there’s also less to do on Day One.

18. Be on Time On the Day

All this pre-planning should make it more likely that you’re on time at the school on the first day. That’s important, as a last-minute rush will only cause unnecessary stress for both you and your little one. So, ensure you leave for the journey in good time. And don’t be late at picking-up time!

19. Reassure & Don’t Fuss on the Day

If you’re anxious, stressed or sad on your child’s first day, don’t let on. It’s best to keep everything positive as far as your child is concerned. So, stay up-beat, calm and reassuring. As we said before, focus on the positives (“you’re going to have so much fun!” etc.) and it will all seem so much more ‘normal’ for your child — as normal as a walk in the park.

20. Ensure They Know Who Will Collect Them

Your child will need to know, ahead of time, who is collecting them.Your child will need to know, ahead of time, who is collecting them. If it’s not you, then they need to know clearly who it will be. They also need to be clear around their general safety rules, stranger danger and so on. Schools should also have safeguarding policies in place for unexpected scenarios. For example, if you are unexpectedly delayed and need to send someone else to collect your child, does the school have a password system in place to ensure that only the right person can collect your child? Find out.

Also, as a parent, you’ll need to ensure you have the requisite contact details for any relevant school personnel (e.g. the number of the main office/reception desk) in case you need to contact them for any reason. They must also have your number and any back-up contact details.

A Good Early Years Education at Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school, Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham offers babies, toddlers and under-fives a really good early years education as part of its high quality childcare service. If you are looking for the best nurseries or pre-schools in the Streatham area, Little Cedars Nursery really should be on your short list. Children absolutely thrive at the setting, achieving personal bests in every area of the early years curriculum and becoming ‘ school ready’ by the time they leave us to move on to Reception at school. We offer outstandingly good childcare services in Streatham, near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown and are convenient for those living or working in Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. To arrange a visit, ask any questions or to apply for a place, please get in contact — simply choose a button below.

How to Transition Under-5s to Nursery or Pre-School

Attending nursery or pre-school for the first time is a massive step for little ones. There are ways you can make it plain sailing for them.Whether or not you’ve finished choosing a nursery or pre-school, you’ll need to prepare your little one in the run-up to attending. After all, going from spending all their time with parents/guardians to attending nursery or pre-school is a big step — it’s a massive change for them. In a worst case scenario, they’ll suddenly be in a new, unfamiliar place, surrounded by children and adults that they simply don’t know — and you won’t be there. However, there are a number of things that you can do to make the transition stress-free and even enjoyable for them. Today’s guide shows you exactly how to prepare your little one for nursery or pre-school.

Forewarn & Reassure Them

Well ahead of their nursery/pre-school start day, forewarn them regularly that that’s where they’ll be spending their days in the coming weeks. If you mention it reasonably often, they’ll come to accept the plan and they’ll be more mentally prepared once they start.

Explain why the change will happen too, in terms they’ll understand. For example, you could say it’s so that they can make new friends, play with exciting toys and have fun on amazing equipment you just don’t have at home.

Always be positive about it. Listen to any misgivings they may have too — and don’t let on if you have any yourself, otherwise they may pick up on those and it could worry them. Reassure them that nursery/pre-school is going to be huge fun. And, of course, answer any questions they may have, in a suitably reassuring way. Always take time to talk it over with them if they ask about it.

Help Little Ones With Independence

Helping children to be more independent will really help them once they start at nursery/pre-school.In the weeks or even months before their first day, toddlers and preschoolers will also benefit from becoming more independent. You can help to encourage this. For example, you could help them with toilet training, help them learn to dress themselves, encourage them to deal with personal hygiene, cleaning their hands and so on. Can they pack their own backpack? Do they know how to hang their coat up? Helping them to master all such skills will make them more confident and relaxed once they begin at nursery/pre-school.

Synchronise with the New Routine

Once you have chosen and been accepted by a nursery/pre-school, you’ll easily be able to clarify opening times, lunch times and so on. Using this, you can introduce equivalent timings to your child’s home life, so their body clock gets used to the same timings. This can include timing of snacks, meals, any morning or afternoon naps, but also include bedtime and timing of getting up and dressing in the morning. If your child’s body clock is already synchronised to the daily routine they’ll have at nursery/pre-school, then they’ll be far less likely to become tired once they make a start at the setting. That’s even more true if, of course, they are getting enough sleep. All such factors need to be built into the new routine well ahead of them actually starting. It should then be plain sailing and they’ll arrive at the setting alert and energised, ready for the exciting day ahead.

Take Your Child for a Pre-Visit!

Any good nursery or pre-school will be happy to show you and your child around.Any good nursery or pre-school will be more than willing to show you and your child around the setting — more than once if required. At Little Cedars Nursery, this is commonplace and it gives parents and children the opportunity to see the setting actually ‘in action’. They can ask questions, see all the amazing facilities, equipment and toys, speak to the childcare professionals and see if they feel at home. Settling-in sessions are also an option, prior to fully joining.

A Friendly Face

Knowing someone who will be at the same nursery or pre-school will help them settle in.Such sessions and visits are also a great way for children to get to know other children at the setting, or even to discover that an existing friend already attends. Knowing someone who will be at the same nursery or pre-school will help them settle straight in, being a friendly face to greet them from the moment they start. Getting to know the childcare practitioners ahead of starting is also going to help, of course, so they feel at home, secure and looked after by someone familiar, right from the word go.

The Day They Start

Be positive on the day they start. Be enthusiastic about them starting and remind them what good fun and how exciting it will be. Remember too, not to pass on any anxiety or misgivings you may have to your child – it will not help them to remain relaxed and positive if you’re giving negative signals.

Perhaps put their favourite cuddly toy or comforter into their bag, so it's there if they need it.Being fully prepared is a big part of the success of this important milestone. However, there are a few things parent/carers can do for children on the actual day they start nursery or pre-school.

  • Pack you child’s bag or backpack the evening before, so it’s not done in a rush on the day.
  • Ensure that everything is labelled with your child’s name.
  • If your child doesn’t yet know anyone at the nursery/pre-school, perhaps pop their favourite cuddly toy or comforter into their bag, so it’s there if they need it.
  • Make sure you’re already familiar with the route and then, on the day, set off in good time. Doing so will ensure that, traffic issues permitting, it’s not a rush. And don’t be late — it will only stress both you and your child out on this critically important day.

Remind your child that you'll be seeing them later when it's time for them to come home again.When you drop your child off, don’t make too much of a fuss about being apart from your child. Also, remind them that you’ll be seeing them later when it’s time for them to come home again. This will all reassure them. And, if you can, see if you can pair them up with a friend for them to go in with. Chances are, they’ll then hardly be able to contain themselves with excitement and will not even look back!

Starting at Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school, Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Babies, toddlers and preschoolers will always get a warm welcome at Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. Our childcare professionals are all adept at putting children at ease from the moment they start. They’ll settle them in and ensure they are happy, safe and enjoying themselves right from the start.

If you are looking for the best nursery or pre-school in Streatham, do consider Little Cedars Nursery. We give children an amazing start in life, bringing out the very best in them in every area. We offer a first class childcare service in Streatham, just a stone’s throw from Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown and also conveniently close to Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. To contact us, arrange a visit, apply for a place or simply ask a question, please use one of the buttons below and we’ll be happy to help.

Rough Guide to Raising Children as Vegetarians

Today we look at the types of foods and nutrients that are essential for children as part of a well-balanced vegetarian diet.In our last post, we asked “is a vegetarian diet safe for your children?” and, in essence, the answer was yes, so long as they get all the nutrients they need. What’s more, we discovered a huge range of benefits of vegetarianism. These included significant benefits to both health and to the planet. In today’s post, we’ll follow up by looking at the types of food groups, vitamins and minerals that are essential for children as part of a well-balanced vegetarian diet.

Infant Milk

While little ones are still drinking milk and haven’t yet moved onto solids, it’s fairly simple. Breast milk will obviously contain just about everything a baby or toddler could want, with one possible exception: Vitamin D. The NHS recommends that breast-fed infants should take a Vitamin D supplement, which is available in easy-to-administer drop form.

For those children still drinking only breastmilk or formula milk, it's straight forward.For those on dairy-based formula milk, it’s pretty much plain sailing too. Because vegetarians — as opposed to vegans — are OK eating dairy-based food, formula milk is generally fine for them. The most popular types are based on cows’ milk, although several other animal milks are also available. So long as dairy-based formula milk is high quality, given in the right quantities, consumed at the right intervals and is age appropriate for the child, it contains all the nutrients and vitamins needed. That’s without the need to give additional supplements too.

There are an incredible number of different types of formula milk, including specialist varieties and others that are not based on dairy milk at all. Formula milk is a huge topic in its own right, so we have now published our separate Quick Guide to Milk for Babies & Infants here.

The 4 Essential Food Groups After Weaning

Once they’re weaned off milk, a well-balanced diet for children will include food from all four of the main food groups. These are:

1. Dairy

It’s important that dairy products for children are all pasteurised, basically for the good of their health and wellbeing. Infants can have whole (full fat) cow’s milk mixed in with food or added during cooking, but must not use it as a drink until they’re a year old. We’ll go into much more detail in our milk guide next month. Dairy products are wonderful sources of calcium, Vitamin D and other nutrients.

2. Fruit & Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are generally full of vitamins, minerals like potassium and fibre.Fruit and vegetables are really a given because they pack so much goodness, including many vitamins, minerals like potassium and also fibre. Fresh vegetables and fruit are ideal but, failing that, frozen, tinned and even dried varieties are also OK.

3. Starch

Starchy foods provide energy by breaking down glucose as well as providing a range of nutrients like iron, calcium, folate and B vitamins. They are also another source of fibre, which is important for digestive health. Starchy foods include pasta, bread, potato, grains and cereal like oats. Wholegrain varieties are generally best for human health.

4. Protein

Protein is a little more complex for vegetarians, simply because they don’t eat the most obvious sources of it — meat, fish and seafood. However, there are lots of sources of protein, as we’ll see shortly. Protein is essential as a key building block for the body. It builds muscles, bones, hair, nails, tissues and organs as well as providing Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and amino acids. Health professionals recommend that children and adults get protein from a variety of different sources and have at least two portions of protein per day.

Sources of protein that are suitable for vegetarians include:

  • Houmous is a good source of protein but choose a smooth variety to avoid choking.Tofu, also known as bean curd, which is made from soy.
  • Lentils and pulses, including peas, beans, chickpeas, sugar snaps etc.
  • Houmous, made from chickpeas, is also therefore a good source of protein but ensure only the smoothest variety is given to infants, so as to avoid possible choking.
  • Grains contain protein, but should be served in ground form for very young infants, again so as to avoid possible choking. Examples include oats, barley, rice and quinoa. Quinoa is unique in containing all nine essential amino acids.
  • Nuts are also a great source of protein but should be served to infants in smooth ‘butter’ form to avoid choking risks. Examples include peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and walnut butter (a great source of Omega-3).
  • Seed butters are also great sources of protein.
  • Lastly, there is also a cross-over between dairy products (see above) and protein because cheese and yoghurt also contain protein.
  • For vegetarians who are OK eating eggs, these are also an excellent source of protein as well as Vitamin B12.

Please note: although great as a source of protein for adults, Quorn is not recommended as a regular meat replacement for children. While it’s great for protein, fibre and making them feel full, it’s low in fat, so will not offer sufficient energy release to children during their early years.

Special Mention: Iron

Iron is incredibly important as part of a healthy, balanced diet for children as well as adults. However, there are certain foods that block its absorption into the body. These include:

  • Tea.
  • Some whole grains and legumes i.e. those that contain ‘phytates’.
  • Dairy foods that contain ‘casein’.
  • Eggs and dairy foods containing a specific type of calcium.

In order to counteract this, firstly ensure that the child has a varied diet. In addition to this:

  • Vitamin C should be included in the meals as this binds to any phytates, which otherwise block the absorption of iron.any pulses, seeds or grains should be sprouted, cooked or soaked before consumption (as appropriate);
  • any foods that block iron absorption should be consumed separately to main meals;
  • Vitamin C should be included in the meals as this binds to any phytates, thereby neutralising their effect on iron absorption. Citrus fruits, berries and juice (diluted 1 part juice to 10 parts water) are rich in Vitamin C, as are vegetables including broccoli, spinach, greens, asparagus, tomatoes and many others.

We hope that this rough guide to bringing up children as vegetarians has been useful. If so, we recommending reading the NHS’s guidelines for bringing up a healthy child on a vegetarian or vegan diet here. It is also always wise to obtain advice from your child’s health visitor, midwife, doctor or other healthcare professional.

Vegetarian & Vegan Food at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & Balham

Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for at Little Cedars Nursery. These and any other special diets are supported fully by our in-house chef, who prepares food freshly each day as part of our healthy eating regimen at the setting. Little Cedars is one of the best Streatham nurseries and pre-schools for babies and under-fives. It’s also near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. To register for a nursery place for your child, to arrange a visit or to ask any questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help:

Is a Vegetarian Diet Safe for Children?

This month is often referred to as ‘Veganuary’, which is why vegan and vegetarian food, facts and meal ideas are all over social media at the moment. Parents/carers have many different reasons for raising their children on a plant-based diet. Whether it’s for health reasons, for the protection of animals, to protect the planet, for religious reasons or simply a matter of taste, more and more people are ‘going veggie’. Raising children as vegetarians or vegans is a natural extension of that. Today, we’ll begin to take look at considerations around vegetarianism for under-fives and children in general.

Studies show that a well-balanced vegetarian diet is a healthy diet.Let’s first take a look at the benefits of vegetarianism …

The Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

Study after study has shown that a well-balanced vegetarian diet is generally a healthy diet. That ‘well-balanced’ element is a crucial one, however, and we’ll come to that later. That said, it’s widely accepted that a vegetarian diet:

    • is good for the heart, reducing the risk of getting heart disease;
    • usually leads to lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL), which could otherwise cause strokes;
    • reduces the risk of developing cancer;
    • lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of developing hypertension;
    • There are a huge number of health benefits for vegetarianism.is linked to a reduction in symptoms for those with asthma;
    • promotes good bone health;
    • lowers the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes;
    • reduces the risk of chronic disease;
    • usually results in a lower body mass index compared to that of meat eaters.

Kindness to Animals

What’s more, an obvious benefit of a vegetarian diet is that it does not require the death of any animals. That benefits the animals themselves, of course, but also the planet as a whole as we’ll see below. And, of course, it’s a good lesson in kindness for children as part of nurturing their moral compass.

Protecting the Planet

“Research shows that meat and dairy products are fuelling the climate crisis, while plant-based diets — focused on fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans — help protect the planet.”
(Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

A vegetarian diet will help the planet enormously.Scientific studies conclude that switching to a vegetarian diet will help the planet enormously. That’s because significantly less greenhouse gas is produced in growing crops compared to raising livestock. What’s more, scientists believe that the necessary reduction in green house gas emissions will be achieved far more swiftly through a widespread switch to vegetarianism than through what’s currently just a gradual shift away from the burning of fossil fuels. Growing crops rather than animals also causes far less pollution in waterways and oceans and also uses significantly less water. The benefits of vegetarianism to the planet are simply enormous.

“A global shift to a plant-based diet could reduce mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10% and 70%, respectively, by 2050.”
(Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

Learn much more about the the benefits of a plant-based diet, for the health of both humans and the planet, here.

The NHS says it's OK to raise children as vegetarians or vegans so long as they get all the nutrients they need.Is a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Safe for Children?

Well, it’s good news there too. According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), it’s perfectly OK to raise children as vegetarians or vegans, “so long as they get all the nutrients they need.” What’s more, they’ll go on to reap all of those aforementioned benefits and will generally tend to live more caring, greener lifestyles as they grow older. And getting all the requisite nutrients is not at all difficult once parents or carers know what’s required.

The Importance of a Well-Balanced Diet

“Children need plenty of energy and protein to help them grow and develop. It’s also important that vegetarian and vegan children get enough iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.”
(The NHS)

In our next post, we’ll go into more detail about the types of food, drink, vitamins and minerals that need to be included in order to achieve a well-balanced vegetarian diet for under-fives. So, come back again on Monday 31 January and you’ll see that a vegetarian diet is perfectly feasible and healthy for your little one(s) when you follow a few simple guidelines.

Healthy Food at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & Balham

Our own in-house chef always caters for special diets including vegetarians and vegans, as needed. This is all part of a healthy food regime at the setting, where food is freshly prepared using only the highest quality ingredients. Food and drink are, of course, included in our standard fees. Little Cedars is an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Streatham that’s perfect for babies, toddlers and children under five. It’s also conveniently close to Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury as well as Colliers Wood. If you’d like to register a place for your child, to arrange a visit or simply have any questions, please get in touch.

Growing Microgreens: A Fun, Educational Activity for Children

Microgreens are an easy-to-grow crop that can be grown by children and parents any time of year.Back in April last year, we wrote an article about teaching children to grow food like vegetables and herbs at home — and its many benefits. It turned out to be enormously popular, so today we follow up with a guide to growing microgreens, for children. This activity is great fun, very educational and the result is extremely nutritious food!

What Are Microgreens?

Also known as micro leaves, microgreens are an easy-to-grow crop that can be grown by children and parents any time of year. What’s more, they can be grown indoors, without needing much room, and all at negligible cost. Take a look at the photos and you’ll soon get the idea of what type of crop they are; they’re basically the very young sprouting leaves and shoots of things like root vegetables, young herbs and leafy greens. We’ll go into more detail about those shortly.

Why Children Should Grow Microgreens

Once ready, microgreens can be used as salads and garnishes.Microgreens are great fun and extremely easy for children to grow. Once ready, they can be used rather like salads and garnishes. They are very tasty and are extremely nutritious.

Because they’re so compact, they can also be grown in virtually any household. They can be grown indoors too, for example on a windowsill, so families without gardens can also enjoy growing them. What’s more, getting children to grow microgreens may save money for the household.

Growing microgreens will really educate children about nature and the importance of caring for a living thing. It’ll help them learn new skills, teach them to be responsible and also help them learn more about where food comes from.

Growing their own food may also make children more likely to try different foods, particularly natural ones like these that are so good for them. All things considered, this fun, natural, educational activity is a total win-win!

What They Are Grown In

Microgreens can be grown in small spaces like windowsills, indoors.Microgreens are traditionally grown in shallow seed trays, which are inexpensive to buy. However, at home, they can just as easily be grown in flower pots, used yoghurt pots, empty egg cartons, the trays from ready-meals or even cut-down cardboard cores from kitchen rolls. So long as water is allowed to drain from them and they can support at least a shallow depth of compost, these can all be suitable. Plastic cartons will need a few holes punched in the bottom to allow for drainage, so parents might need to organise that in order to avoid their children hurting themselves. Other than that, it’s plain sailing for supervised children to do themselves.

What Else is Needed?

Microgreens are usually grown from seeds and, for those, you have a couple of options. Both are very inexpensive. You can use either:

Suitable seeds include rocket, beetroot, spinach, red cabbage, fennel, broccoli, radish and mustard.Suitable seeds include: rocket, a type of strongly-flavoured lettuce; beetroot, with their lovely red stems and mild, earthy taste; spinach, which also has a mild flavour and is full of goodness; red cabbage, which is also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals; fennel, which will have a distinctive aniseed flavour; broccoli, which will grow into sprouts that have a slightly spicy taste; radish seeds, which also grow into leaves that taste a little fiery; and also mustard seeds (for children who are OK with even more hot, spicy flavours).

The only other things that are needed for children to grow microgreens are water, drip trays and some compost.

  • For the compost, ‘Multi-Purpose Compost’ or ‘Seed & Cuttings Compost’ are both perfect. Peat-free versions of those are even better, as they’re kinder to the environment.
  • You’ll need some seed ‘drip trays’ to place under your trays or pots of microgreens. As the name suggests, these are simply trays to catch the draining water and to protect your windowsill etc. They’re inexpensive to buy but, if you’re on a budget, a saucer or suitably shaped plastic carton of some sort will be fine, so long as it’s watertight underneath and is shallow enough. This is also a great way to recycle plastic and show your child how easy it is to do so.

Setting Up & Sewing the Seeds

Setting up is easy:

  • As soon as shoots appear, remove any covering and ensure the compost is kept moist.First, your child should fill the seed trays, flower pots or equivalent, almost to the top, with some compost.
  • Then firm it down a little so it is flat and even.
  • If they want to manually space out the seeds individually, then they can use a fingertip to indent where the seeds will go, then pop a seed into each indent.
  • Otherwise, the fastest and easiest approach is to lightly sprinkle the seeds onto the compost. Be sure to do it lightly (tip: sprinkle from a little bit of a height to make this easier). Your child should avoid allowing the seeds to clump or be spread too densely, otherwise problems can occur once they start to grow.
  • Optionally, the seeds can then be covered with a light sprinkling of more compost, just to keep them in place while still allowing some light to get to them.
  • Water lightly (outside may be best to avoid any mess indoors). Be gentle when watering so the seeds do not simply wash away.
  • Place the pots or trays of seeds back on the windowsill or similar. Wherever they are placed, it needs to be in full daylight during the day and also ventilated.
  • Optionally, they can be temporarily covered with a piece of kitchen towel or cling film, but this is only while the seeds germinate.
  • Your child should check daily to ensure that the compost stays moist. If needed, water gently from above or, if seed trays are shallow, put some water into the drip trays so the compost draws it up.
  • Snipping them at their bases instead of pulling them up may allow them to regrow, so they can be harvested more than once.As as shoots begin to appear (usually after just a few days), remove any covering if used and continue to ensure that the compost is always kept moist, but not over-watered.

Harvesting your Microgreens

In just one to two weeks, you should have a nice ‘blanket’ of shoots and baby leaves growing beautifully. The idea with microgreens is to harvest them while they have baby leaves, before mature leaves start to form. So, they should be harvested while still very young. Snipping them at their bases instead of pulling them up may allow them to regrow, so they can be harvested more than once.

Microgreen Meals

Full of vitamins and minerals, microgreens can be used in a huge number of different meals.Once harvested, they should be rinsed to get rid of any stray compost. They are delicious to eat and, depending on the seeds grown, have a huge variety of tastes and colours. Children and parents alike can benefit from the nutritious and tasty shoots as part of a variety of meal types. Full of vitamins and minerals, they can be used in salads, as pizza toppings, garnishes, toppings for risottos, soups and pastas, as fillings in sandwiches, sprinkled on top of baked potatoes or into burgers and much more. They’re very adaptable and, with their distinctive tastes and textures, will make any meal really special.

Childcare Excellence in Streatham, SW16

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamChildren will love growing these little edible plants and harvesting them for food. They will learn so much along the way, building to a great sense of achievement in what is a great home learning activity. Learning at home is just as essential as all the learning that takes place at nurseries like Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. Children will learn best when it’s a true partnership between nurseries/pre-schools and parents, so we encourage regular feedback and cooperation.

If you are looking for outstanding nurseries in Streatham for your baby or under-five child, please get in touch with Little Cedars Nursery. Our nursery is also near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so get in touch if you’d like to discuss or register a place for your child. We’d love to show you around …

Dyscalculia: FAQs for Parents

Around 5% of children of school age are thought to have dyscalculia.In today’s guide, we answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Dyscalculia, particularly in relation to children, including preschoolers. Around 5% of children of school age are thought to have dyscalculia.

Isn’t Dyscalculia like Dyslexia, but for Numbers?

Not really. Both conditions can make learning maths tricky, but they are quite different. Learn more about dyslexia here, or read on to learn about dyscalculia.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, has dyscalculia. So do pop stars Robbie Williams and Cher. Even Benjamin Franklin had the condition.

What is Dyscalculia?

Put simply, dyscalculia is a difficulty in understanding numbers. Indeed, it’s sometimes referred to as an arithmetic-related learning disability. Research into it is currently only at an early stage. People suffering from the condition will find all mathematical activities troublesome. Even concepts like whether a number is larger or smaller than another may be difficult to comprehend, so even more advanced mathematical concepts will be very difficult for sufferers to grasp. As with dyslexia, the condition can afflict people of any level of intelligence. However, there are thought to be possible links between dyscalculia and Asperger’s Syndrome or even Autism in some cases. Those with ADHD are also often prone to learning disorders like dyscalculia.

What are the Signs/Symptoms of Dyscalculia?

Children with dyscalculia have difficulty understanding number concepts.A few of the possible signs of dyscalculia include:

    • Difficulty understanding numbers and in acquiring mathematical skills;
    • Difficulty manipulating and comparing numbers and quantities;
    • Difficulty remembering number facts and procedures;
    • At pre-school age, children may have difficulty grasping the link between number symbol “4” and the word “four”;
    • They may also be unable to connect the number to the same quantity of objects;
    • Preschoolers may even be unable to grasp the concept of counting, what it all means and how it applies to everyday objects and scenarios;
    • They may also be unable to reliably count in the correct order, without error;
    • Once they start school, children with dyscalculia may have difficulty with simple addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, number facts and even mathematical symbols like + and -;
    • Graphs and charts based on numbers may seem meaningless to them;
    • Children with dyscalculia may use fingers to count long after their peers have moved on to mental arithmetic.They may also continue to use fingers to count long after their contemporaries have moved on to mental counting;
    • Dyscalculia can manifest itself in games, for example draughts and chess. A sense of direction and the planning of moves may not come naturally;
    • Even simple keeping of score during sports games like cricket, netball or football may be troublesome;
    • Later on, money management may also be a problem;
    • Older children who are aware that they have the condition may become anxious about attempting any mathematical problem. This could even turn into phobia around going to school and diminished self-confidence;
    • It’s also worth noting that many people who have dyscalculia may also have problems with their memory;
    • The condition may also adversely affect how well the brain and eyes work together. This can make coordination and judging of distances more difficult.

Please note: with all the possible symptoms mentioned in this guide, having symptoms does not necessarily prove the existence of the condition. It’s therefore important not to jump to conclusions without proper, professional, appraisal. It is crucial to ensure that the problem is not caused by something entirely different, for example poor eyesight or hearing. For this reason, an appraisal and any guidance from a doctor, educational psychologist and/or paediatrician would be wise. Although various tests and commercial appraisal services exist, it’s important to understand that no watertight test for dyscalculia has yet been developed.

Is there a Cure for the Condition?

Children with dyscalculia can be very gifted in areas like creativity, strategic thinking, problem solving, practical abilities & intuition.Just as with dyslexia, there is no cure for dyscalculia. However, there are many ways to help children cope with its effects. It’s also worth bearing in mind that children with dyscalculia can be very gifted in other areas, for example creativity, strategic thinking, problem solving, practical abilities and often great intuition.

How Can Children with Dyscalculia be Helped?

There are several ways in which parents, carers, teachers and early years professionals can help children overcome the limitations of dyscalculia:

  • Using small objects (e.g. counters etc.) can help to demonstrate how numbers work and are applied;
  • Practise can build up mathematics confidence;
  • Giving a child with dyscalculia extra time for any task involving numbers and maths can also help;
  • Break larger numerical tasks down into a series of smaller steps;
  • Ensure affected children have ample access to visible reference such as number charts, multiplication tables, formulae when their older, etc.;
  • Calculators will also help when not testing mental or written arithmetic;
  • Children with dyscalculia may also benefit from the use of graph paper, which will allow them to more confidently line up numbers and calculation steps;
  • Specific teaching strategies may also be required, including possible multi-sensory approaches.They can also benefit when important words and numbers are highlighted (to draw attention to their importance);
  • Children with dyscalculia will also benefit from an early view of a new topic or concept. ‘Pre-teaching’, in other words;
  • One-to-one teaching will be helpful so that concepts are given deeper explanation and repeated demonstration where needed;
  • Specific teaching strategies may also be required, including possible multi-sensory solutions;
  • Physical and software tools may also be available;
  • Continuous assessment of the child’s numeracy and maths skills is also beneficial.
  • Last but not least, it’s also important for parents, teachers, carers and childcare professionals to talk to each other and to compare findings about the child’s abilities and any disabilities. In this way, help can be given sooner if needed.

Special Educational Needs at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamChildcare professionals at Little Cedars Nursery will look out for possible signs of dyscalculia — and any other learning difficulties — as a matter of course. If we spot anything, we’ll liaise with parents, guardians or carers to discuss ways in which we can all help, together. There are many ways to help children with learning difficulties. That’s true whether they’re at the nursery, at home, or when they are ready to move on to school. Helping children with challenges and any special educational needs is all part of the service at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham. Indeed, one of our main goals is to help each child become the very best version of themselves.

If you are looking for an outstanding childcare nursery in Streatham, or near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood, please get in touch to register your child for a possible place, or to request further information:

The Benefits of Messy Play – for Under-Fives

Messy play is enjoyed universally amongst children, especially the very young. In fact, there is probably not a child in the UK that doesn’t enjoy it! Messy play is enjoyed universally amongst children, especially the very youngBeing let loose with coloured paints, art materials and creative opportunities is sure to bring a smile to their faces and a sense of enormous fun, creativity and discovery. No doubt too; they’ll be proud to show others their creations!

Is messy play all about having fun and being creative, though? Well, that’s important and it is partly about that. However, messy play also has a whole host of other benefits and purposes. In this article, we’ll take a look …

Learning Instinctively About the World

There’s something inherently natural about messy play — it instinctively appeals to children, giving them spontaneous ways to discover new aspects of the world and the properties of the things in it. Getting ‘hands-on’ with malleable media and colourful pigments surely is one of the most natural, fun ways for children to learn through play and discovery. Who doesn’t remember playing with wet sand on a beach, or being drawn to the joys of wet paint, mud or clay as a child? It simply is great fun and a way for children to let loose and get really messy — something they’re usually discouraged from doing.

Advancing Creativity & Self-Expression

Messy play allows children to express themselves in unbounded creative waysAs well as being enormous fun, messy play allows children to express themselves in unbounded creative ways. That’s important. Self-expression and creativity will help children to gain a sense of achievement and, through this subtle way, a greater sense of self-worth and confidence.

Building Blocks for Development

By learning about everything that messy play can teach them, children will also start to create building blocks upon which to develop intellectually and educationally. As well as learning about pigments, colours, form and the properties of different media, messy play will allow children to learn higher concepts. Just one example is planning. Here, they will learn how to decide on the order and structure of their activities before they actually begin them.

Improving Physical Skills & Strengths

Messy play is also a great opportunity for toddlers and preschoolers to build strength in their hands, to hone fine motor skills, and to improve coordination and even balance. Squeezing, pushing and pulling things like clay, or mixing and spreading pigments or glues all help children to improve their manual skills and build muscle in fingers, hands, arms and shoulders. Messy play helps children build strength in their hands, hone motor skills, and improve coordinationHand-eye coordination will also benefit, of course.

Gross motor skills can also be improved through messy play activities undertaken on a larger scale — for example playing in sandpits, creating large-scale art/sculptures and suchlike. What’s more, it’s all so much fun that children are completely unaware that they’re improving themselves as they engross themselves in the creative and playful aspects of the task. It’s all totally natural and, as such, messy play is a perfect example of learning and development through play.

Discovering New Senses

Messy play will also give children the opportunity to discover and recognise senses. Sight, touch, smell, sound and, if safe and appropriate, even taste senses can be stimulated through messy play. Through stimulation, children will get to learn more about themselves and the world around them. In terms of things in that world, it’ll also allow children to build up a picture of their own personal likes and dislikes. It also introduces children to spacial and material concepts, allowing them to recognise hardness, softness, solids, liquids, textures, form, colours and so on. Such concepts are important as foundations upon which to grow — as people and educationally.

Encouraging Independent & Team Working

As well as using messy play to practise independent working, it can also be done in small groups. In this way, children will begin to understand the power and importance of team work and co-operation, also learning things about leadership, communication, negotiation and problem-solving. That’s all incredibly important as they grow older, ultimately helping them at career level. Also, of course, it’s a great way for them to bond with peers.

Messy Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

We understand the many benefits of messy play at Little Cedars NurseryWe fully understand the many benefits of messy play at Little Cedars Nursery, of course. Indeed, it’s part of the curriculum. Under-fives are encouraged to learn through messy play using an enormous wealth of resources, equipment and materials at the setting. That’s both indoors and in our outside play areas. From paint and paper indoors to sandpits and water play outside, toddlers and preschoolers have a wonderful time with messy play at Little Cedars, all in a safe, structured, fun and educational environment.

Nursery Places in Streatham, Near Furzedown, Balham & Tooting

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamLittle Cedars is one of the best nurseries in Streatham, near Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park and Furzedown as well as Balham, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Norbury and Colliers Wood.  If you’d like to explore the opportunity of your baby, toddler or under-five child attending the setting, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to tell you more or even show you all around. Please select an option:

Apply for a Place Here Arrange a Visit or Message Us Here Telephone 020 8677 9675

Screen time for children - how much is too much?

Is screen time healthy for children?Recent studies show that use of connected screens and devices by children, including under-fives, is growing fast. The pandemic appears to have increased kids’ screen use too, as children have spent more time indoors and less time playing ‘in person’ with friends.

The big question for parents is: is all this screen time healthy for children? In this article, we’ll take a look …

First, Some Recent Statistics

According to Childwise, the leading research experts for children and young people, children are spending more and more time on connected devices. These are devices like mobiles, tablets, smart TVs, virtual assistants like Alexa and so on. Most feature a screen but all can connect to the Internet, to other devices and/or to people via Wi-Fi or data connection.

Here’s what the recent research has to say about children’s use of connected devices:

  • 50% of all children aged between 5 and 10 own a mobile.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of all children own a mobile, with the majority of them having one by the time they’re 7. Pretty much all of them are mobile phone owners by the age of 11.
  • Over 75% of under fives have access to a connected deviceOver 75% of children under five have access to a connected device, with up to 60% of preschoolers actually owning their own.
  • Under-fives were found to be using tablets on average for 9 hours a week.
  • Over a quarter of preschoolers were also found to have access to games consoles.
  • 83% of children have access to the Internet in their bedrooms.
  • Over half of children surveyed stated that they kept their phone next to their bed when sleeping.
  • 11 and 12-year-olds spend, on average, 4.2 hours per day online. This has grown significantly since the preceding year’s report, when it was 3.3 hours per day.
  • Over a quarter of all children surveyed are spending 4 to 6 hours per day online.
  • Children are watching, on average, 3.3 hours (under five: 3 hours) of video content every day, with TikTok and YouTube being their favourite video platforms.
  • The number of homes with a virtual assistant (e.g. Alexa etc.) has risen to 39%.
  • Due to the Pandemic, 45% of school children surveyed said they were worried that they might be falling behind at school, while 62% said that they were feeling lonely.

Most figures in the surveys had increased in the last 12 months, although there were occasional exceptions.

Are Parents Choosing the Content Their Children Access?

According to findings of the research, half of preschoolers found online content without parental input and 60% of children aged 3 to 4 are more than capable of deciding which apps they wanted to use.

Toddlers now confidently navigate digital platforms and use touchscreen devices unaided“Parents have always played a huge role in curating what [under-fives] consume and how their time is spent, but toddlers are now confidently navigating digital platforms for themselves, and using touchscreen devices with purpose and determination.” (Childwise)

Is Screen Time All Bad?

It’s generally accepted that too much screen time for children is not healthy for them. There are many reasons for this and we explore a few of the issues below …

  • Children need to keep fit and active rather than spending too much time inactive, in front of electronic screens. Exercise is incredibly important for children, whether they’re under five or older.
  • Also, it’s not healthy for them to disengage from the real world too much. Few ‘real world’ skills like physical, social interactions and honing of gross motor skills are possible when reliance is placed only on the virtual world through handheld and connected devices.
  • Screen time undertaken close to bedtime is also known to be a brain stimulant and that can adversely affect sleep patterns and the quality of sleep. This, in turn, can adversely affect concentration and energy levels and ultimately their ability to function and to learn optimally.
  • Some medical professionals and scientists say Some medical professionals and scientists say that the ‘RF wireless radiation’ emitted by Wi-Fi connected screens and devices may carry potential health risksthat the ‘RF wireless radiation’ emitted by Wi-Fi connected screens and devices may carry potential health risks particularly, they argue, for pregnant women, their unborn foetuses and the young. The very young, of course, have brains that are still at a critical development stage. For this reason, the experts concerned advocate that access to devices like mobile phones should be limited, removed from children’s bedrooms at night or, at the very least, placed in Flight Mode when possible. Using devices wired instead of using Wi-Fi apparently reduces risks. Use of them in hands-free mode is another useful approach, so that the devices are not so close to youngsters’ heads. We’re not experts ourselves, but these measures seem like sensible precautions.
  • Given the statistics about children, even toddlers, being able to access what they want on connected devices, some automatic Parental Controls would also seem sensible. For example, software from security companies like Norton allow great control over which websites can or can’t be accessed by children, and for how long.

“The battle to forge a healthy digital lifestyle is now a very real consideration for parents” (Childwise).

Parents need to control online content to safeguard childrenWhile time spent by children on connected screens and devices is rising, it’s not all bad news. The pandemic has also seen an increase in the time that parents have been spending with children, including on shared screen viewing as well as on other pastimes like baking, crafts and family activities. At the end of the day, it’s all about a healthy balance and, of course, adult supervision to ensure children’s wellbeing at all times.

Indeed, despite the sometimes alarming statistics, parents are in a prime position to influence what their children are exposed to on screens and connected devices. As such, that’s a golden opportunity to encourage content that’s not only stimulating and fun, but also educational. Programmes about nature or science are obvious examples, but there are many others.

Technology & Screen Time at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

When it comes to screen time for under-fives at Little Cedars Nursery, we understand both the benefits and the pitfalls. Technology has a great many benefits when used correctly and indeed is part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum at the nursery. However, for obvious reasons, any time spent online or with electronic screens is stringently monitored and controlled by our childcare professionals. We aim to maximise the positive benefits of technology, while at the same time keeping children as safe as possible. We also, of course, know the importance of physical activities and active play at the setting so, at the end of the day, it’s about getting the balance right.

Nursery Places in Streatham, Near Furzedown, Balham & Tooting

If yLittle Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park. Tooting, Furzedown & Balhamou are looking for a high quality nursery or pre-school place for your baby or child in and around Streatham, please do consider Little Cedars Nursery. We’re in Aldrington Road, SW16, so we’re also suitable for those looking for nurseries and pre-schools near to Furzedown, Balham, Tooting, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill and Streatham Park. Please choose a contact option below to get in touch:

Apply for a Place Here Arrange a Visit or Message Us Here Telephone 020 8677 9675

Rough Guide to Dyspraxia & ‘DCD’

While most people have heard of dyslexia (see our recent guide), fewer are aware of a condition called dyspraxia. In this rough guide we give an overview as to what dyspraxia is, how it affects children, how to spot the signs of it and what can be done to mitigate its effects.

Please note: Dyspraxia is a form of Developmental Co-ordination Disorder or ‘DCD’ for short. Indeed, because there are different forms of dyspraxia, medical professionals generally tend to refer to the condition as DCD rather than dyspraxia. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll use either of the terms interchangeably to mean the type of dyspraxia that people are born with or develop naturally (not other types that may be the result of physical trauma like stroke or injury).

What is Dyspraxia/DCD?

In essence, dyspraxia (DCD) is a condition that causes problems with movement and co-ordination. When children have this, they may appear more clumsy than their peers and the condition will adversely affect how well they execute physical activities. For this reason, they may reach some of their key developmental milestones later than expected. There are varying degrees of the condition, so children who have it may exhibit symptoms sooner, later or more/less severely than others.

  • The condition cannot be cured, so needs to be managed (usually right into adulthood) in order to mitigate its effects.
  • Dyspraxia affects 3 to 4 times more boys than girls.
  • It’s not usually possible to get a definitive diagnosis before a child is at least 4 to 5.
  • The condition is also sometimes referred to as Specific Developmental Disorder of Motor Function (SDDMF).
  • Children with dyspraxia often have other conditions including ADHD, autism, dyslexia and/or sometimes problems with speech.

How Does it Affect Children?

Although dyspraxia usually has nothing to do with intelligence or the ability to think, the condition can really hold children back. As well as the innate inconvenience of not being good at co-ordinating movements and physical tasks, it can leave children prone to being less fit. This is simply because they’re not naturally co-ordinated enough to be good at sport and physical activities, so are less likely to partake in them.

Children with dyslexia/DCD may also have trouble with concentration, low attention spans, following instructions, copying information and organising themselves or other items. Due to the issues around the condition, they are often slower at picking up new skills. All of this can be very frustrating for them, so sometimes they develop behavioural problems too. Dyspraxia/DCD can make a child feel different, feel isolated, sometimes become the focus for bullying and often have trouble making friends. All of this can lead on to give sufferers a low sense of self-esteem.

Signs to Look Out For

Babies and toddlers with dyspraxia may start to exhibit a delay in starting to crawl, roll or sit. Before they’re one, they may also end up in odd body positions or have strange posture.

As they develop and grow older, they may show difficulty when they eventually walk, feed themselves, dress, draw and/or write. They may have trouble stacking things, playing with certain toys, using pencils, using cutlery, eating and generally co-ordinating their movements. Playground activities like running, jumping, and kicking or catching a ball may be difficult for them to co-ordinate correctly. Trouble with buttoning clothing when they’re older and tying show laces is also a classic sign.

Why Children Develop Dyspraxia

It’s not known why children develop dyspraxia/DCD but children are more likely to develop it …

  • if they were born prematurely;
  • if they were low in weight at birth;
  • if they come from a family with a history of it;
  • if their mothers drank alcohol or took illegal drugs whilst pregnant.

Diagnosing Dyspraxia/DCD

If you suspect that your baby, toddler or child may exhibiting possible symptoms of dyspraxia/DCD, you should consult your GP, Health Visitor or the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) at your child’s educational setting. Your child may then be referred to a specialist healthcare professional who can assess them. Diagnosis itself is usually undertaken by a paediatrician, often in tandem with an occupational therapist who will later be involved in treatment if the diagnosis turns out to be positive. Much more detail about dyspraxia/DCD diagnosis is available on the NHS website.

How to Help Children with Dyspraxia/DCD

While dyspraxia cannot be cured, there are ways to help children with the condition and indeed they may well require help for the long term. A tailored help plan is usually generated by a combination of healthcare and educational professionals in tandem with parents and the individual concerned. The plan will be designed to mitigate the specific challenges that a child is facing, so will differ from case to case. For example, a child may need help from a paediatric occupational therapist to master use of cutlery, writing, playing and dressing etc. And/or a clinical psychologist may be needed to help with the child’s mental health. An educational psychologist may be able to help the child overcome barriers to them progressing their education … and so on. Learn more about the types of treatment available for children with dyspraxia here.

The following video may also be useful as an illustration of how one family deals with childhood dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia & Special Educational Needs at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

It’s important for nursery staff, education professionals and parents to look out for the signs of possible dyspraxia, and any other conditions, in children under their care. The earlier symptoms are spotted, the more likely the child can be helped to best effect. While it’s not possible for children under 4 or 5 to be positively diagnosed with dyspraxia/DCD with full certainty, should a positive diagnosis be suspected, then a tailored learning and development programme can be put in place at the earliest opportunity. In this way, the child will be supported where needed and any adverse effects of the possible condition can be reduced to a minimum. Using this approach means that even children with special educational needs can thrive, achieving personal bests as they progress through their learning and development milestones.

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamLittle Cedars is one of the best nurseries in the area around Streatham, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting and Balham. We’re based at 27 Aldrington Road, Streatham, SW16 1TU and offer outstanding, weekday childcare services for babies, toddlers and preschoolers up to the age of 5. So, if you are looking for a high quality nursery or pre-school in any of these south west London areas, please make contact with us while a few places are still available (please choose a button):