It Starts With Early Child Care
Why Early Childhood and Child Care?
As children age their habits solidify and become much more difficult to change. Good nutrition and plenty of physical activity are key to a young child’s growth and development. The early years of childhood – from birth to age 5 – is a critical period for the development of these healthy behaviors that can have a lifelong impact on a child’s quality of life.
Many children are in a childcare setting, often for several hours each day. Because of this, the child care environment and providers play an important role in helping the children in their care develop healthy eating and physical activity habits that will last a lifetime.
What We Do
The goal of Let’s Go!’s Early Childhood work is to bring about environmental and policy changes that support healthy eating and physical activity. We aim to do this in multiple settings that reach children from birth to age 5.
Because Let’s Go!’s Early Childhood efforts focus on child care settings, the program is called 5-2-1-0 Goes to Child Care. Let’s Go! uses this program to support child care providers in raising a healthier generation of children. 5-2-1-0 Goes to Child Care is based upon the ten key strategies listed below, and uses a 6-step process to guide child care programs in creating an environment that supports healthy eating and physical activity for the children in their care.
- Provide healthy choices for snacks and celebrations; limit unhealthy choices.
- Provide water and low fat milk; limit or eliminate sugary beverages.
- Provide non-food rewards.
- Provide opportunities for children to get physical activity every day.
- Limit recreational screen time.
- Participate in local, state, and national initiatives that support healthy eating and active living.
- Engage community partners to help support healthy eating and active living at your site.
- Partner with and educate families in adopting and maintaining a lifestyle that supports healthy eating and active living.
- Implement a staff wellness program that includes healthy eating and active living.
- Collaborate with Food and Nutrition Programs to offer healthy food and beverage options.
5-2-1-0 Goes to Child Care’s 6-step process was adapted from Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC) and uses a modified version of the Let’s Move! Child Care Checklist to help child care providers assess their current practices. Participating programs are provided with a comprehensive toolkit, access to online resources, free educational workshops for staff, Maine state licensing contact hours for completing certain program steps, and personalized guidance and assistance to support the child care programs in the adoption of the 10 strategies and 5-2-1-0 message.
To get your child care program involved or for more information, contact your local Let’s Go! representative.