Feeding FAQ: 9-12 months – Other

Should our 11mth daughter join in with high tea at her nursery or wait until she gets home to have our own menus?

My 11 month daughter has been full time at nursery since the age of six and a half months old.
The nursery have always fed her depending on the stage of weaning e.g. mashed, diced etc. When she was about eight months she was happily eating finger food. My husband came home and informed me she had eaten a jammy dodger! He was astounded and didn’t know what to say so I went and discussed the matter with her key worker. She informed me that they do stick to a Healthy Eating plan and the manager actually liaised with OFSTED over Healthy Eating. I told her that I just wanted my daughter to have fruit and yogurt etc in the afternoon, not anything remotely similar to Jammy Dodgers! I felt extremely awkward and have become to feel even worse over the months as I’ve also been in to discuss the fact that they weren’t sticking to her sleep times.

She eats extremely well and, touch wood; we haven’t had a problem with food. At nursery I’m aware of the brands of food they eat and they are not what I would choose as we’ve always followed CLB Weaning guide. At 3.15pm all the children have a high-tea. We asked that my daughter just has fruit and a yogurt as we like to give her a tea at 5pm. That way she’s having our food. The problem with that is that we feel quite guilty as when my husband has collected her at that time all the other children are tucking into sausage and beans while she has a yogurt. She tries to eat their food (I can’t blame her!). We feel bad enough that the other children regularly have treats such as chocolate crispie buns and we won’t allow her to have those and I’m not changing my mind on that issue. Should we let her have a high-tea and then give her something when she gets home, if so what would we give her?

At present my daughter eats a protein dinner at nursery such as spaghetti bolognaise followed by fruit, yoghurt or custard. She then has a vegetarian tea from the Contented Baby Weaning Guide.

Discuss with your key worker your concerns over some of the food being given to the children. Explain that you are aware that your daughter seems keen to join the other children but, should you decide that she can join in with the nursery meals, you do have certain preferences as to what she may be allowed to eat. See if the nursery would allow you to bring in your own prepared food for her tea. Although not eating the same food as the other children she would enjoy the social aspect of eating a meal with them. Some nurseries will be willing do this.

If you batch cook thick vegetable soups and bakes at the weekend they can easily be reheated for her at the nursery. If this is not an option, and you do allow your daughter to join in with the nursery high tea, go through the menus with the manager or key worker and make a list of things she is and is not allowed to eat. If there is a written list in her records then it will be easier for you to ensure that the nursery is adhering to your wishes. You are quite within your rights to do this.

The problem many parents find, when their baby does join in with high tea at nursery, is what to give the baby once they are at home again. The baby will need a snack of some kind especially if they have been served tea at 3.30pm. It can take a week or so to find out how much your daughter needs to eat at her 5pm high tea, as well as what foods she will eat, in order for her to continue to sleep well at night. Bear in mind that she may be tired at the end of the day.

Providing the nursery gives you a daily record of all your daughter has eaten you should be able to offer her light but filling suppers such as a scrambled egg and toast fingers; home made fish goujons and a dip; thick vegetable soups, possibly a smaller amount than she normally would take, along with a mini sandwich. She may enjoy a piece of fresh fruit or piece of cheese afterwards if she is still hungry.

It would be worth you looking at the case study of Charlotte in The Contented Child’s Food Bible, page 152, as this deals with the problems which may arise with a baby eating an early nursery tea.