Child Care

Child care providers play a critical role in influencing the healthy development of children. Our eating habits and physical activity behaviors are generally developed early in life and these early habits have lasting impacts on our health throughout our lives. This is why child care is one of Live Well Omaha Kids’ top priority areas for obesity prevention interventions. 

In Nebraska, approximately 1 in 3 children between the ages of 2 and 5 years are overweight or obese.

We also know a large portion of children in our community spend time in child care. In fact, nearly 80 percent of women in Omaha with children under the age of six work outside the home meaning many of these children are attending some type of child care program.

Live Well Omaha Kids recognizes child care as a key environment to help children learn healthy eating habits and physical activity behaviors. After all, good nutrition and regular physical activity leads to:

  • healthy brain development
  • healthy growth
  • improved social skills
  • development of healthy body weight
  • reduction in the risk of developing chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Key Solutions

“Child care and early education providers are a powerful force in children’s lives and can help them learn habits that prevent childhood obesity and can keep them healthy for life.”  – Let’s Move Child Care

Child care providers should aim to be healthy role models and provide a child care environment that makes the healthy choice, the easy choice for the kids, staff, and families.

Here are 5 goals recommended by Let’s Move Child Care:

  1. Physical Activity: Provide 1-2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible.
  2. Screen Time: No screen time for children under 2 years. For children age 2 and older, strive to limit screen time to no more than 30 minutes per week during child care, and work with parents and caregivers to ensure children have no more than 1-2 hours of quality screen time per day (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics).
  3. Food: Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal, eat meals family-style whenever possible, and don’t serve fried foods.
  4. Beverages: Provide access to water during meals and throughout the day, and don’t serve sugary drinks. For children age 2 and older, serve low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk, and no more than one 4- to 6-ounce serving of 100% juice per day.
  5. Infant Feeding:  For mothers who want to continue breastfeeding, provide their milk to their infants and welcome them to breastfeed during the child care day. Support all new parents’ decisions about infant feeding.

Community Resources

Making your child care center a healthier place doesn’t have to start from the ground up. There are already great tools and programs that exist in the community. Click the following links for more information:
  • NAP SACC Learning Collaborative is a FREE program in Omaha that supports child care centers in reaching goals like these and others. Through educational workshops, planning, and coaching, leadership teams can earn incentives and make healthy changes that will help kids develop healthy habits that last a lifetime!
  • Make the healthy choice, the easy choice at your child care facility! We have games, recipes, posters, newsletters and technical support and more all to help you provide a healthy environment for your kids, staff and families. Here is a list of recommended resources.
  • Training videos are a great way to get new ideas and keep yourself ahead of the latest information available, including physical fitness activities for children, how to shop healthy and how to read nutrition labels.

Take Action Now

Change starts with YOU. Here are some simple ways for you to take immediate action:
  • Include as much of the 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® in your daily routine for the children in your care as you can to ensure that they’re getting those key elements every day – because they may not be getting them at home.
  • Make meal times at your facility a family dining experience to encourage sharing, conversation, and healthy eating habits. Then encourage the families that you care for to do the same at home.
  • Give the children in your care access to water at all times. Encourage them to drink water throughout the day by assigning them their own fun sippy cup and provide water breaks.
  • Leave the television off. While TVs can be a great distraction while you’re making meals, encourage children to have some quiet time to read books or put together puzzles instead.

Check out our Take Action Now page for additional ideas and resources to start making change in your school, at home or in your community.