Incorporating Nutrition & Exercise Into Your Nanny Routine

“Teaching kids about health and fitness is important to me.

It’s about being fit for life.”

-Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Retired American Track and Field Olympic Athlete

The habits and patterns you are helping to build for the children in your care can be with them for life! We encourage you to prioritize a healthy routine that includes exercise and nutritious food to set them up for success. Of course, this will be beneficial for the children, but HOT TIP: it also makes you a HIGHLY desirable Nanny! An emphasis on health and nutrition is called out more and more by families in their job descriptions, so we encourage you to incorporate some or all of these into your interviews, and into your daily nanny routine:

  • Age-Appropriate Education: Before you can educate children, you need to educate yourself, and the Mayo Clinic has clear guidelines for your review. You can then incorporate age-appropriate “lessons” and games into your routine. This might be things like the differences between fruits and veggies, showing them seeds inside and explaining how plants grow, explaining what it means for foods to be “clean” or nutrient-dense, and why that is important. You can also teach them how vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fat help our bodies function.
  • Make Learning a Game: Does the family have plates with sections? You can teach children to sort by the various food types (proteins, fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy – when tolerant). You can also challenge the children to get items from each type to put into the various sections. Helping kids learn how to create their own healthy meals can be a proud accomplishment for the kiddos in your care.
  • Make Healthy Food Fun: There are endless Pinterest boards with creative snacks that make food look even more tasty. When you put a plate of food in front of a child that looks like a face, a flower, or an animal, it is much more fun to eat, even if it is healthy!
  • Stay Hydrated: Children may be drawn to sugary drinks, but encouraging them to drink lots of water to hydrate themselves has so many health benefits. Always having a bottle of water handy, or using shaped ice cube molds, makes it easier and more enticing for kiddos to stay hydrated. Also, adding fruits (fresh or frozen) to their water to infuse it can make it more appealing. Pinterest has a lot of great ideas for this, but we find it works best when children pick out their own fruits.
  • Play is Exercise: Most of the time, children are eager to be active, so they don’t even know they are exercising! Hide and seek, playing tag, riding a scooter, doing yoga, playing at the park, swimming, yoga, and many other games and activities incorporate exercise with no additional effort. Again, the Mayo Clinic has great resources for the mental and health benefits of exercise, and we encourage you to communicate with the children how the activities are benefiting their bodies and minds.
  • Serve as a Model/Example: As with everything else, children are watching what you DO more than what you SAY. This means that you also are demonstrating healthy eating on the job, as well as exercise. And what a treat for a child to have you by their side as they sprint across the backyard, or indulge in fun and healthy meals!

There is a growing demand for Nannies to incorporate nutrition and exercise into children’s lives. The good news is that you can make most of these lessons into fun games and activities! You also can have an incredible amount of pride and satisfaction knowing that you are giving children the building blocks that set up healthy habits for their entire lives.