Nutrition training

In recognition of the crucial role of childcare providers in encouraging good nutrition among young children, the Public Health Agency and Health and Social Care Trusts are working in partnership to offer free nutrition training to all staff within day nurseries, playgroups and crèches, as well as SureStart workers, childminders and foster carers providing childcare within the home setting.

This training will be delivered by Community Dietitians and specialist Health Improvement staff across Northern Ireland and aims to provide information and practical advice on a range of issues of relevance to those caring for the under fives, including:

  • why good nutrition is important
  • weaning
  • healthy eating for the 1-5s
  • snacks and drinks
  • menu planning
  • how to meet the nutritional needs of children with individual dietary requirements, including those with medical conditions such as coeliac disease and diabetes, those from ethnic communities and those following a vegetarian diet
  • fussy eaters
  • food labelling
  • food safety
  • rewards and celebrations
  • developing and implementing a nutrition policy
  • dental health
  • physical activity

Childcare providers who have attended previous training sessions reported that it was of great value to them in their work.

The training is offered free-of-charge and all delegates will receive a copy of the recently updated publication, Nutrition matters for the early years: Guidance for feeding under fives in the childcare setting and a certificate of attendance.

Food allergen management for Early Childhood Providers

The management of food allergens is something that early childhood providers cannot ignore and it is highly likely that most providers now count children with food hypersensitivities (food allergy, food intolerance, coeliac disease, etc.) among their charges.

There is no cure for food hypersensitivity. Therefore, management is based on avoiding the food that causes illness in the first place. The symptoms can range from mild stomach upset that develops over time to an immediate and possibly life threatening anaphylactic reaction in the case of a severe food allergy (fortunately, fatal allergic reactions are exceedingly rare among young children). Early childhood providers cannot afford to ignore the issue of food hypersensitivity and must demonstrate competence in the area of food allergen management in order to assure parents that the early childhood environment is safe.

To achieve this level of protection, both early childhood providers and their staff need to be fully trained in best practice food allergen management specific to the early childcare setting. While food allergen management is invariably predicated on the avoidance of the offending food, the early childcare environment is unique and presents a distinct set of challenges. Therefore, safefood, in partnership with Early Years NI, provided a series of training workshops for early childhood providers that was tailored to their specific needs. Ten workshops were held throughout Northern Ireland in 2015/2016 and over 350 frontline early childcare staff received training.

The training workshops were carried out by Ruth Charles, a Coru registered dietitian, a member of the Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute and a member of the International Network for Diet and Nutrition in Allergy.

Workshop content

  • Food allergens including their use in non-food commodities
  • Impact on nutrition
  • Impact on child (and parent) psychology
  • All aspects of food allergen management
  • Emergency procedures
  • Medication (including adrenaline auto-injectors)
  • Precautionary measures
  • Consent and responsibilities issues

Workshop resources


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