Why is my child hungry after daycare?
In the 18 years that I have been doing childcare, “Why is my child so hungry when I get them home” is one of the top 5 questions I get! Followed by: Are you feeding my child enough? On the inside I am laughing at the questions because I know the truth. On the outside, its all business!
At our childcare centers, we participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, CACFP for short! The CACFP is a federal program that provides reimbursements for healthy meals and snacks served to children and adults that meet specific guidelines including how much and what we can serve! At our centers, we provide a breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack. At breakfast we serve a fresh fruit, a whole grain, and 1 % milk. Example: Bananas, Pancakes and Milk. At lunch we serve a fruit, a vegetable, a whole grain, a meat/protein, and 1 % milk. Example: Mixed Fruit, Green Beans, Spaghetti, Ground Beef, and Milk. At snack, we serve two of the five lunch components. Example: 100 % Juice, Animal crackers. If your child ate everything provided to them in one day at our centers, it would account for 60 % of their daily nutrient. That means if you are exhausted after a long day at work and only serve your child peanut butter and jelly sandwich...well they have already had two to four serving of fruit and vegetables already! Most parents would be surprised at how well their child eats at daycare. When children see other children eating broccoli, they are more likely going to try it themselves!
Back to the question at hand: Why is my child hungry after daycare? You can see we do feed them nutritious meals three times a day. So why is your child hungry! Well, children are a creature of habit! Everyday we feed them at the exact same time! Breakfast is at 8 am. Lunch is at 11 am. Snack is at 2 pm. Most of the time, children are picked up at 5 pm. Do you see the pattern? We feed the children every 3 hours! So at 5 pm, they are ready to eat again! Most parents never even consider that scenario!
Another thing to consider is the activity level of children in child care. At our centers, our children are on a fairly normal daily schedule. Each class has activities levels ranging from calm, table activities to hyper, outside activities! It’s a lot different than your daily home life. Toddlers, for example, are super hyper! So they use a lot of energy from 8 am to 5 pm at daycare! They are walking, crawling, playing, running, and climbing the walls most days! So they consume a lot of energy from the food that we provide them.
So to clear up a lot of questions, yes we do feed your children. Yes we do provide them with enough of each food groups a day for their needs. Yes we do feed your child every three hours! And yes we do keep them busy and entertained.
I hope this gives parents an insight to this age old question! Simply put: Your child is hungry when they get home because they have used a ton of energy playing and learning! They have been feed every 3 hours which means they are right on target! And they are children...they love to eat!