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CM's: catering to lifestyle diets(66 Posts)
I'm getting more and more children coming to me with a long list of 'mustn't eats' and at the stage where I'm considering stopping food altogether. Anyone else finding this and is there an answer?
I'm obviously not talking allergies or even intolerances but parent's own dietary wishes such as one child is totally sugar free & another (age 1 - absolutely no sign of intolerance to date) gluten & diary free.
I cook from scratch, only offer water or milk for drink, pudding is natural yogurt / fruit etc, lunch is soup or something 'less healthy' such as beans on toast or ham sandwich but otherwise I'm pretty good with their food intake. That said, I do allow the odd ice lolly, make cakes sometimes, the older ones might share some crisps with the little ones in the holidays etc.
I'm really not sure I can be bothered to keep such a regimented & restrictive menu for no solid reason so in these cases would I be unreasonable to ask parents to provide packed lunch & tea? I can provide fruit snacks.
I'm not a CM but would definitely feel uneasy when it came to colluding with a parent's
barking mad food restrictions.
It's like they're projecting their own orthorexia onto their children Not good and not healthy in any sense of the word.
I think the answer would be to change your policy and ask all children to bring their own lunch with them.
I do provide a hot meal at lunch time, but with the list of issues you have I think I would be changing my mind.
I have a menu so parents know what I'm providing in advance. Anyone who doesn't wish to take advantage of my free food is welcome to bring their own. End of story.
I think it would be reasonable to publish a weekly meal-plan in advance and advise all parents they can send in a packed lunch on any days when the lunch provided isn't suitable. Then you can try provide occasional options for each mad fad (eg a rice and vegetable dish) without bending over backwards
You have a couple of options:
A) do fruit only snacks, everything else must be provided by parents
B) provide a menu in advance and parents can decide whether they will send alternative food.
My son has a dairy and tomato allergy, I provide his meals for nursery but they provide snacks and drinks.
You need to decide what you will do if someone sends a packed lunch full of treat foods and the other children complain they are not getting the same.
My DCs have very little (but not zero) sugar and our CM found it unusual but once we gave her tips on giving plain yoghurt and crackers, and peanut butter on bread she just checks it's OK if they have the odd cake. I think she found it refreshing after the mindee who told on her to their mum if they didn't get Nutella every day.
I provide a well balanced range of meals and snacks. I wouldn't cater for sugar free, gluten free etc though. For specific diets I'd ask parents to provide food. When you have a number of children to look after specific requirements like that become too time consuming and harder to cater for.
I have no problem with medical, or religious needs, but I have no time for food fads. I make this clear before parents sign contracts, so they know if it is the right setting for them.
I wouldn't CM for children who were put on highly restrictive diets. It's unnecessary and by no means good for them. Obviously there is a line to be drawn there, so for me I would happily CM for a child who was eating a vegetarian diet but probably not vegan and certainly not gluten-free/low fat/totally sugar free. I think it's ridiculous and wouldn't want to encourage them.
I don't do food and haven't for 20 years only fruit snacks. Like school we talk about what is suitable in a lunch box and that only one treat food like crisp/cake is given I have permission to add veg like cucumber. The children understand very easily what is in their lunch box/dinner and that everyone is different....just like in other things in life and in school lunch boxes. Its never caused a melt down and children have actually started to request parent sends in stuff like cucumber, tomatoes and pasta.
I found that the best answer is to call their bluff a bit.
Of course you cater for allergies and intolerances, but they must be genuine and it's essential you are prepared.
You therefore require a written diagnosis from their doctor, together with symptoms and action to be taken if exposure occurs.
I would have this included as part of your food policy. If they really are medical or religious reasons why certain foods can't be given, you really need this information.
And none of the "can't tolerate milk, but butter is fine" silliness: an allergy or intolerance is exactly that, no matter what the medium!
That's not strictly accurate Tanith. My dd is allergic to eggs. She is extremely allergic to contact with raw egg. She is slightly less senstive to lightly cooked whole egg and reacts to things such as an eggy sponge cake. She also recently reacted (hives, facial swelling) to a shop bought macaron. She can however tolerate some baked goods with egg in them, for example a cupcake/muffin from a batch of cakes made with 1 egg. So sometimes the medium does make a difference.
Wow, why would parents be so restrictive when they really don't have to? My ds has acute allergies to dairy, eggs and soya so I know a bit about "restrictive". Despite this his nursery provide all his food, BUT I did have to provide a doctor's letter to confirm his diagnosis. I think that was a very fair request. No medical need, no special treatment, unless the parent wants to provide an alternative themselves. I do think doing a weekly menu is a good idea, but don't send it out inviting comment or parents may act like it's collaborative and start telling you what to make! For information ONLY.
Tanith you clearly have no experience with dairy allergies. As a baby DS would have a reaction to any dairy at all. From the age of 1 dairy allergic kids do a "milk ladder" gradually exposing them to increasing amounts of milk protien to build tolerance. Some kids will eventually be able to tolerate milk. My DS is now five and can eat butter and cheese, but will have a severe stomach/skin reaction to yoghurt or milk. Another of his friends are very similar.
Having a dairy allergic child is tricky enough without spreading misinformation and calling perfectly legitimate dietary needs "silliness"
I had a lactose intolerance and again, some types of dairy are bad (milk, ice cream) and some are OK (hard cheese, butter).
I try to make sugar an irregular treat not a daily occurrence because having it less often gives children less of a sweet tooth. Even at 5 with birthday parties etc DS doesn't like chewy/boiled sweets or icing as he finds them too cloying. Babies and toddlers don't need added sugar.
The whole point the op made was that she is not talking about genuine allergies or intolerances but this restrictive faddy diet craze that some parents put their children on. If they want to do that fine, they provide it. But it is very difficult to provide a meal that caters for 8 different dietary requirements every day.
My childminder didn't provide food. DC had a packed lunch. I had no problem with that at all.
Why are people saying gluten free is not something they'd cater for? Haven't you heard of coeliac disease?
BreatheDeep - the OP has made it quite clear she isn't talking about intolerances.
at the poster who thinks their CM finds a sugar-free diet refreshing rather than a pita
Yes jiggly along with 'once we gave her tips...' Bet you were popular!
BreatheDeep coeliac disease is rare. Eating a gluten free diet through choice is
faddy completely different.
FWIW OP I'd be a little annoyed if our childminder had to stop doing food for everyone just because a couple of people have made her life difficult. But at the same time I completely understand where you're coming from, it must be an absolute pain. I think other posters' suggestion of a meal plan and letting people bring their own food if they object is a good one. Our CM always has a menu by the front door (I never check it because I trust her judgment but I know it's there if I want to look).
Feel for you as a CM - your job is already challenging enough.
But I'm bit sure why people say it's acceptable to cater to those who choose to avoid food for religious reasons, but not because it's the parents' wishes? Surely the basis is the same - avoiding a food when there is no medical reason, the food to be avoided is not constantly changing, others eat this food with apparently no ill effects... what's the difference between doing this for a religious reason and for parental views on good food for their children.
Ugh it would help if I could read properly at this hour 😑 Sorry OP, your suggestion of letting people bring their own. It's completely reasonable.
This article highlights exactly why giving your child daddy diets based on some misguided notion of what is healthy is so bloody dangerous: Dairy-free diets warning over risk to bone health
If your child has lactose intolerance, you will be receiving advice from a qualified dietician. If you've just decided to cut out food groups from your children's duet, you're risking their health.
I know more than one (wealthy, middle class) parent who has been told at a check up that their child is malnourished
You sound eminently sensible in approach to food. Sadly there are increasing numbers of completely neurotic parents who believe every fad or scare story the Daily Fail,publishes. Parents with no common sense at all start restrictions on diets, create a huge focus on food and wonder why the children grow up with problems.
I'd tell parents that your ethos was to provide a balanced diet with variety and new taste experiences but if the parents wanted a particular food plan outside of this they needed to send a packed lunch.
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