Vegetables & Fruit:
- Offer dark green vegetables such as broccoli, green peas and spinach often. Dark green vegetables are important sources of folate
- Offer orange vegetables and fruit such as carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, cantaloupe and mango often. Orange vegetables and fruit are rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene
- Frozen and canned vegetables and fruit can be healthy and convenient options. Choose unsweetened frozen fruit or fruit packed in water or juice, not syrup. Canned vegetables usually contain added salt. Choose low-sodium varieties or rinse and drain canned vegetables to lower the salt content
- Offer actual vegetables and fruit instead of juice. If you include juice on your menu once in a while, offer 100% juice. Fruit-flavoured drinks are mostly sugar and water with some added flavours and do not provide the important nutrients children need to grow
- Buy fresh local vegetables and fruit when in season. See Foodland Ontario Availability Guide
- Make at least half of the grain products on your menu whole grain each day (e.g., barley, brown rice, whole grain whole wheat bread and whole oats)
- Choose cereals that have two grams or more of fibre per 30 gram serving
Milk and Alternatives:
- Serve breastmilk or 3.25% milk fat (M.F.) milk to children aged 12 to 24 months
- Lower-fat milk, such as 2%, 1% or skim, is not recommended for children under two years of age. Infant formulas and toddler beverages or milks are not needed unless medically prescribed
- Serve 1% or 2% milk or fortified soy beverages to children over two years of age
- Serve lower-fat milk alternatives, such as 20% M.F. cheese and 2% M.F. yogurt, to children over six years of age
Meat and Alternatives:
- Serve meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often
- Offer at least one serving of fish each week. Choose fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, rainbow trout and arctic char which are high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury. To find out more about choosing fish, visit EatRight Ontario
- Deli meats, sausages or packaged meats are not recommended. If they are served, choose products that are lower in sodium and fat (i.e., no more than five grams of fat and 480 milligrams of sodium per 75 grams serving)
Food and beverages not recommended for child care settings:
- Peanuts, nuts, nut and seed butters if there are children with allergies
- Foods containing artificial trans-fat (e.g., hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils, shortenings, hydrogenated hard margarines, frozen pizza, muffin mixes)
- Fruit-flavoured drinks that are not 100 per cent fruit juice
- Pop, sports drinks and energy drinks
- Coffee and caffeinated tea-based drinks
- Ice cream treats and popsicles
- Flavoured gelatins
- Cake, cupcakes and doughnuts
- Toaster pastries
- Chocolate or yogurt-covered granola bars or granola bars that contain candy, chocolate or marshmallows
- Candy, chocolate and marshmallows
- Full fat cream cheese
- Full fat sour cream, table cream, coffee cream, whipped cream, non-dairy whipped cream and creamers
- High fat, salty snacks (e.g., potato chips, nacho chips, cheese puffs)
- Deep-fried foods (e.g., chicken nuggets, French fries, fish sticks, samosas, spring rolls)
- Hot dogs, sausages and bacon (e.g., regular side bacon, turkey bacon, chicken bacon)
- Cured meats (e.g., salami, ham, pepperoni, bologna)
- Instant noodle soups
- Fruit-flavoured candy, gummies, rolls or chews
- Food that has passed the “best before” date
- Home preserves or home canned foods are prohibited
- Unpasteurized apple ciders and juices are prohibited
- Unpasteurized milk is prohibited
These items should only be offered in small amounts:
- Jams, jellies, marmalades, syrup, fruit butters, light cream cheese
- Sauces, salsas, dips, gravy, condiments (e.g., pickles, relish, mustard)
- Soft margarine, vegetable oils (e.g., olive, canola, soybean), butter, salad dressings, mayonnaise
Information about Food Labels:
Ingredient List – The ingredient list tells you what ingredients are in the packaged food. They are listed by weight from the most to the least. This list is a source of information for people with food allergies or health concerns.
Visit EatRight Ontario for more information. Search “Nutrition labelling” for 5 short videos and fact sheets on nutrition labelling.
Reducing Choking Hazards
Since any food can cause choking, always watch children while they are eating. Have children sit down to eat and provide a calm eating environment.
How to reduce the risk of choking:
- Do not offer popcorn, marshmallows or hard round candies.
- Cut grapes and grape tomatoes in half or quarters.
- Grate hard vegetables such as carrots or cut them into narrow strips.
- Spread peanut butter, nut butter or soy butter thinly. Never serve it right off a spoon.
- If served, cut hot dogs and sausages into long strips, and then into bite-size pieces.