Physical health and wellbeing are some of the most highly publicised early childhood topics. From sugar to sport just about every day there is controversy surrounding physical health and its relationship with early childhood.

We think it’s simple. Children need healthy diets and activity that is relative to their personalities and abilities. Sure this won’t mean the same thing to every child and every family but isn’t that wonderful. Differences are what makes people great. 

Diets, foods and allergies can provide interesting learning opportunities for educators, children and parents. Vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, gluten free, nut free, dairy free, soy, lactose intolerance, the list goes on! If your child care service prohibits cow’s milk, eggs and peanuts we look at it as a glass half full situation where your children are able to celebrate and experience new foods in a variety of ways, regardless of the situation. If you are unsure of how to substitute these foods speak to your service. You can also find great resources at http://www.lifeeducation.org.au/ and http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/

Here are a few tips to help with promoting healthy eating in your home or centre: -

-          Introduce plastic free zones. This is where no pre-packaged food can consumed.

-          Stay hydrated. Have regular water breaks for everyone where a routine approach is taken to drinking water.

-          Create a pleasant mealtime experience free from television or other electronic distractions. Converse, share stories, create stories, laugh and enjoy the mealtime experience.

-          Offer meals at regular times. Despite the fact that many of us are busy working parents, a regular mealtime will guide healthy eating practices

-          Expose children to expanse and diverse food types, praising them for trying different things. This can be extended to the restaurant experience. If you are an educator organise for a trip to a local restaurant where children can experience this social activity and appreciate foods in different ways.

Food isn’t the only factor that contributes to a physically healthy lifestyle. Physical activity is a co contributor to child and adult physical health and wellbeing.

In 2014, the Australian Department of Health released the ‘Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines'. These guidelines are aimed at the physical activity needs of children, young people and adults. 

Here are some of the guides stating that children aged 5-12 years / young people aged 13-17 years should participate in:

  • At least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day.
  • Children / Young people’s physical activity should include a variety of aerobic activities, including some vigorous-intensity activity.
  • A range of activities are preferred for children and young people. This also takes into consideration the many different contexts in which physical activity could and should take place and that different types of physical activity provide different health benefits.
  • There is evidence that vigorous physical activity provides health benefits (e.g. musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory health benefits) and that these benefits may be additional to the benefits found for lower intensity activity.

By utilising these guidelines and encouraging an active lifestyle, families are also promoting a healthy weight, strong bones and muscles, balance and flexibility, posture, cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin sensitivity , relaxation, self-esteem, social skills and social networks.