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23/11/2021 by Amanda Goode
The short answer is, we don’t know. Here’s the long answer…
The government advice is confusing. Under the government guidance, sausages are listed under Foods to avoid up to 5 years, but under the How to reduce the risk of choking heading, it gives instructions of how to cut them up… And let’s be honest, if you can find a 4-year-old that hasn’t already been eating sausages, that’s a rare child indeed! Even vegetarians and vegans can eat sausages these days. We assume from this that they know that people are probably going to give children sausages anyway and would prefer for the children not to choke on them.
This is the primary concern when feeding very young children sausages. Choking is really bad for you. It stops air from entering the lungs and can kill you very quickly. Young children who are still learning to chew and swallow or children with special needs are especially at risk from choking. This is one of the reasons why, as a childminder, you must properly supervise children whilst they are eating (some of the other reasons are so that you can stop them from throwing tomato soup up the wall or tipping all their food into the dog). To prevent choking make sure you cut up food appropriately by following the recently issued government guidance, for example, ‘cut sausages into thin strips rather than chunks and remove the skins’
So we can give the children sausages?
Saying to avoid them but telling us how to serve them safely is a bit like saying ‘Don’t eat a bucketful of ice-cream, but if you do, use a small spoon.’ And it’s one thing for the parents to be feeding their children sausages, but the EYFS states that as a childminder it is a must for food and drink to be ‘healthy, balanced and nutritious’ if you are providing it. It does not say anything about sausages though.
Why are sausages so bad anyway?
As well as containing a lot of fat, sausages (and also a lot of processed food – anything that you haven’t made yourself from ingredients that have had minimal things done to them) contain a lot of salt…
Salt is bad for you. Although you actually need a bit of salt in your diet most people have too much. Too much salt in your body means that your kidneys have to work extra hard to get rid of it. If the kidneys can’t keep up, then the body holds onto extra water to dilute the salt. This means there is more fluid being pumped around by the heart, making it have to work extra hard too. Over time, this can cause damage to the blood vessels and lead to serious complications such as heart attacks. In addition to this, young babies’ kidneys are not developed properly and are even less able to process large amounts of salt.
But my childminded children won’t eat healthy foods – sausages are one of the only things that they WILL eat!
We get it – children are fussy. As childminders, serving up healthy food is a must, and if the child’s diet at home is poor, then we should try to get at least some healthy food into them. However, the most important thing is that they don’t go hungry. If they really won’t anything else, something is better than nothing.
If the children really do love sausages, why not try getting them involved in making some homemade ones (not as difficult as you think), or look for reduced salt versions (they do exist, but check the packaging as they can still have a high salt content for young children).
I have so much to do, this is just another thing I have to worry about. I think I’ll just stick to what I was doing.
Please don’t feel this way! We know you are doing an amazing job, as Chef, Entertainer, Educator, Cleaner and everything else! We think that if you can show that the food and drink you provide is healthy overall, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you very occasionally serve something a bit less healthy, as long as you are keeping the children safe from the really harmful stuff like choking.
It’s about being sensible and keeping children healthy and safe..
We can think of this topic the same way that we think of other aspects of what we do with our childminded children – as something to work on and improve. You might have the fussiest child ever who will only eat sweets and sausages, but if you are aware of it and are trying to make improvements, however small, that can only be a good thing.
If you are looking for inspiration for activities to do with your children around the themes of being safe and healthy please look at our Be Safe, be Healthy pack which covers 15 different topics, including healthy eating, being active, looking after your teeth and more.
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