Teach Your Kids to Eat Healthy

Teach Your Kids to Eat Healthy

By Guest Blogger JenAndKids

Parents know just how difficult it can be to feed a child, especially if he or she is a picky eater. Kids with a sweet tooth can be particularly hard to convince to eat fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, the eating habits they develop as children can be carried over all the way into adulthood, which means parents are potentially raising a child who may encounter a lot of health concerns later on in life. This article takes a look at what strategies parents can employ to help their kids make healthier food choices.

Get Your Children Involved

If you involve your children in grocery shopping, you are less likely to have a lot of food spoil or left uneaten because your kids have had a say on what things they want to eat. PBS also suggests getting your children involved in meal or snack preparations so that they can become more interested in healthy eating.

Prepare Food Ahead of Time

Busy parents, especially those who juggle multiple commitments, may find themselves pressed for time when it comes to preparing food, so much so that they may be tempted to order food from a fast food chain just so they can have something to feed their family. While occasional dining in fast food chains is acceptable, doing this regularly is not good for anyone, especially children. To prevent this from happening, you can prepare food ahead of time, store it in the freezer, and then heat it up once it’s time to eat.

Surround Them with Fruits and Vegetables

Make sure to always have healthy snacks around the house to encourage your kids to munch on them to stave off hunger. For example, you can place a fruit bowl on your dining table or have sliced fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator so your children can just grab a snack any time they want to eat something. At the same time, try to minimize or eliminate any unhealthy snacks, such as chips, from your home so that they won’t be tempted to munch on this type of unhealthy food.

Make Mealtimes Fun

Sometimes food presentation means the difference between your kids eating the meal you served or making them scream for a burger instead. You can add smiley faces to pancakes to encourage your children to eat them and other humorous things to motivate your kids to finish their food.

JenAndKids is a mother of three active kids and a blogger. She is a believer of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and she constantly tries to come up with kid-friendly recipes for her family.

Finding the Right Child Care Provider: Client Success Story

Client Success Story

Nearly eight years ago, a single mother with two young sons came to BANANAS looking for child care. Her youngest son, then 4 years old, had never spoken a single word, not in Chinese (his mother’s native language) nor in English. She worried that she needed to find a child care provider who could offer special support with her son’s language development. As a mother with limited income and two children to care for, she came to meet with a Resource & Referral Counselor at BANANAS to discuss her options. The counselor listened to her concerns and discussed the type of hours, care, and cost that would suit her family. The mother said she was given, “a whole stack” of providers who could offer care for a child with special needs.

The mother called every provider on the list to find someone with the skills to support her son. Unfortunately, after six months, she decided that the first daycare she’d enrolled him in wasn’t the right fit, so she returned to BANANAS a second time. After meeting with a counselor, she got a whole new list of referrals and began making phone calls. This time, she connected with a nearby provider who was specially trained in caring for children with special needs. The young son, who by then was approaching 5, still hadn’t started talking but the provider had confidence that he would learn and grow in child care.

Not long after he began working with this provider, whose first language is Vietnamese, he began to speak. His mother said, “Slowly he started to talk, word by word.” He would speak not only in English, but also in Vietnamese. “The provider is so patient with kids, she tries to understand what they need. My son started saying one word, then two words, three words.” Her son, now almost 9, has been thriving in the program and his mother could not be happier. “Now he talks all the time. He’s always asking, ‘Why? Why? Why?’ He went from not understanding to understanding.”

We are absolutely thrilled about this family’s success in finding the right child care provider. If you are looking for child care, please get in touch with one of our Resource & Referral Counselors at 510-658-0381. We’re here for you!

Tireless Advocate, Passionate Leader: Remembering Carol Thompson

carol-thompsonIt is with immense respect and deep appreciation that we remember child care leader Carol Thompson. A tireless advocate for families, she worked to help create a child care subsidy program that could support parents, children, and early childhood educators. For 35 years she lead the staff at Child Care Links with compassion, dedication, and a vision for change. Carol and other pioneers of child care worked with Alameda County to help launch Cal WORKs Stage 1, a program that extended child care subsidies dramatically. She served on the board of directors for the California Alternative Payment Program Association and on numerous committees focused on finding solutions for low-income parents and the early learning community.

Many of us have lasting memories of the presentations Carol gave at our annual agency conferences. Today we continue to carry with us the valuable tools she shared. Whether it was a reminder to take care of ourselves so we can support others or how to lift each other up as a team, she offered wisdom that was inspiring and lent to a wonderful, positive workplace. It is this commitment to staff, to colleagues who she treated as family, that remains in our hearts.

We honor all the years Carol worked for the community, all the effort and knowledge she brought to child care advocacy, and all the ways she enhanced our lives. She is remembered with great fondness and gratitude.

How to Spot the Signs of Child Abuse: Information for Child Care Providers

Protecting Children

By Freelance Contributor Jane Sandwood

A new child abuse case is reported every 10 seconds. The United States has one of the worst child abuse and maltreatment records among all industrialized nations. As child care providers, we deal with children each and every day, who may be among these numbers. Therefore, it is important that child health and safety programs include information on the signs of domestic child abuse.

Here is a guide on how to spot domestic child abuse and your duties as a child care provider to protect the children in your care.


Child abuse can take many different forms and sometimes can be hard to spot. To provide some education on the domestic violence of children, it is important to recognize the various types of child abuse and neglect. By understanding what the signs are, you will be able to better recognize if a child in your care is being abused.

Physical Abuse means causing injury or pain to a child, which includes beating, slapping, pushing, kicking, biting, pinching, and severe physical punishment. Even if the injury was not intended, the aggressive act can still be defined as physical abuse. Some signs of physical abuse include markers such as burns, cuts, and bruises, as well as a fear of adults, wearing long sleeves during abnormal occasions, and/or a fear of going home.

Sexual Abuse is any sexual act between an adult and a child to include penetration, intercourse, rape, oral sex, fondling, child prostitution, and performing sexual acts in front of the child. Some signs of sexual abuse include an inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts and information, seductiveness, excessive aggression, and/or a fear of a particular person in the child’s life.

Emotional Abuse is an attitude, behavior, or lack of behavior that interferes with a child’s mental health and/or social development. Although emotional abuse is nearly always present with other types of abuse, it can also occur on its own. Emotional abuse can include name-calling and acts that make children feel useless or threatened. Signs of emotional abuse include low self-esteem, isolation from parents, a lack of social skills, strong emotions or outbursts, and/or using language that is inappropriate for their age.

Child Neglect is a common form of abuse and is defined by the failure to provide a child’s basic, medical, and educational needs. Some signs include wearing clothing that doesn’t fit the weather, bad hygiene, and/or extreme hunger.


If you notice any of these signs, it is required by law that you report them as soon as possible. A child care provider is a mandated reporter, which means you must report any signs and incidents.

To report any suspicious cases, you can call the Alameda Child Abuse Hotline at 510-259-1800. It is available 24/7 and in addition to being a resource for reporting abuse, it can be used as a resource for any questions you may have.

  • Jane Sandwood, a former teacher, has worked as a freelance writer for the last 10 years across many fields. Jane has a particular interest in issues relating to child welfare.

Teaching the Next Generation of Early Childhood Educators: Client Success Story

Part of the work we do at BANANAS involves coaching early childhood educators to improve the quality of child care programs. Our Quality Improvement Coaches spend time at licensed child care centers and family child care homes to discuss ways to improve and support implementation of health and safety, engage more deeply with children, support child development, create nurturing environments, and build strong relationships with parents. Since we know that children thrive in programs that provide quality care and opportunities to learn through play, we know that the work our coaches are doing is incredibly important!

Recently one of our Quality Improvement Coaches was truly inspired by the experience of working with a young teacher named Rachel*. Over a short span of time, she saw Rachel transform from a shy caregiver who rarely showed emotion to a fully engaged, often silly and outgoing early educator. After watching a video of herself interacting in the classroom (watching and reflecting on videos is one helpful tool coaches can use), Rachel recognized that she was rarely smiling, laughing, or playing actively with the kids in  her care. She was surprised to see that the genuine warmth and care she felt for her students was not evident in her behavior. Instead, she seemed disinterested.

The coach asked her, “What do you do really well and what do you want to improve on?” Rachel quickly responded that while she was great when it came to planning and keeping things organized, she wanted to be more expressive and playful and to make a point of being more engaged with the children. Our coach was very supportive of this and together they came up with strategies Rachel could use to bring more warmth to the class. Her attitude shifted dramatically and she not only began to laugh and smile more frequently, she began to take a series of BANANAS workshops on being a child care provider. Rachel’s understanding of her role as a caregiver and the recognition of how important and valuable early childhood education is changed with every new training. She recently told the coach that her goal was to pursue early childhood education as a career. We are so proud of this young teacher and of the amazing work done by our Quality Improvement Coaches.

*Please note that our client’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

Community Care Licensing: Child Safety

CCL Updates 2017

As child care providers and parents, we all want to keep children safe and to ensure their environments are set up to prevent accidents. The California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division is responsible for promoting the health, safety, and quality of life of each person in community care through the administration of an effective and collaborative regulatory enforcement system. They offer quarterly updates on safety laws for children and child care facilities as well as important tips for anyone caring for young ones. Here is the most recent roundup:


Car Seat Requirements: Effective January 1, 2017, children under two years old must ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches tall. For more information about car seat safety, visit the First 5 California website.

Vaccines: As of September 1, 2016, all licensed child care employees and volunteers must show proof of immunity to pertussis (whooping cough), measles, and influenza. Contact the Alameda County Public Health Department with questions.

Earthquake Preparedness Checklist and Emergency Disaster Plan: For licensed child care facilities, the Health and Safety Code requires an Earthquake Preparedness Checklist to be included as an attachment to the Emergency Disaster Plan, which needs to be made accessible to the public. The checklist will include information on eliminating potential hazards, establishing a coordinated response plan for children and parents, and local agencies who can provide assistance and training of staff.

New Child Abuse Reporting Law: Effective January 1, 2018, new child care providers need to show that they have gone through Mandated Reporter Training, which is available for free here. It requires six hours of training in total and can be taken online. Existing employees have until March 2018 to complete it and new hires (after January 2018) will have to complete the training within 30 days of their hire date.


Child Care Videos: Community Care Licensing now offers dozens of informational videos on opening and operating a licensed child care program as well as educational videos for parents. To find answers to your questions, visit their website here.

Securing Furniture: To keep kids safe indoors, be sure that furniture is anchored and remove tempting items (such as remote controls or toys) from the top of any large furniture. Anchor top-heavy furniture to the wall with anti-tip devices like brackets, braces, and wall straps. Get more safety information here.

Recall Information: It is the responsibility of child care providers to ensure that recalled products are not in use in their child care facilities. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issues approximately 300 product recalls each year, including many products found in child care settings. Visit the CPSC website or call 1-800-638-2772 for updated recalls.

Criminal Clearance Transfers: A clearance can remain active as long as an individual is associated to a licensed child care facility. If someone is disassociated from a facility, he or she must be associated to another facility or be rehired within two years or the clearance will become inactive. To reactivate a clearance, people have to be fingerprinted and cleared before they can work, reside, or volunteer in a licensed child care facility.

Most Commonly Cited Deficiencies 2016: To learn what common mistakes were found in California child care facilities last year, visit the Community Care Licensing website. It’s a great reminder of licensing requirements!


It’s Week of the Young Child!

Week of the Young Child

Welcome to Week of the Young Child! Today is the beginning of a week-long celebration of children, teachers, families, and early learning started by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Each day has its own theme to inspire learning through a range of fun, educational activities. At BANANAS, we are joining in on the excitement by having daily events at our office for kids, parents, and caregivers to enjoy. Here’s what we have coming up:

Music Monday – Stop by to join in movement and dance while we play a variety of international music in our lobby. Program Director Judy Kriege will drop in with her guitar for a few impromptu singalongs too! Music is a great way to encourage language and literacy as well as math skills. Click here for some great ideas on how to incorporate songs and music into children’s daily lives.

Tasty Tuesday – We’ll be going bananas for delicious recipes on this cooking-focused day. Teaching young children about making healthy food and lifestyle choices can’t start early enough. Plus, cooking is a fun activity that can promote science and math skills! When you come in, we’ll give you recipe cards to try at home together. You can also click to find them here. There are more super ideas on our Cooking with Kids Pinterest board.

Work Together Wednesday – Come to our office to create art that will become part of a beautiful collage. When we work as a team, we get to celebrate our diversity and learn from one another. Kids get to practice social skills and problem solving. Want more ideas? Click here for a whole list of activities for building and working together.

Artsy Thursday – This will be a day when we continue to create artwork to take home and add to our collaborative collage. Doing hands-on projects can help children develop fine motor skills and inspire creativity. Check out more art ideas here.

Family Friday – BANANAS will be closed on Friday for staff development, but we’ll be celebrating the families we serve and our work together as the BANANAS Bunch family. We encourage you to spend time with the people in your life who make up your family too! Here are some ways to bond and build deeper connections.

We hope you will join us in this five-day celebration of children and early education. You will find lots more ideas for Week of the Young Child on our Pinterest board!

Tips for Parenting Children with Dangerous Food Allergies

Baby Eating Healthy Food

By Guest Blogger Dolores “Dolly” Santos of DollyMath.com

Being a parent is challenging enough. You are constantly dealing with schedules, babysitters, and mealtimes. When you add a dangerous food allergy into the equation, suddenly you find that even the tasks that should be simple, like dropping your child off at daycare, have become potentially dangerous. Here are some tips to help manage the care of someone with food allergies.

Ask for Help

It is important to make sure that you distribute information about allergens to anyone and everyone that is involved in the caretaking of your child. This includes: babysitters, grandparents, other relatives, day care employees, teachers, and other individuals that might at some point be responsible for giving your child even a small snack. Recruit your spouse or partner to also be as educated as possible so they can disperse important information when handing off your child to someone else for care. Do not try to take on all of the responsibility by yourself. Imagine if something unforeseen happened, and you needed someone else to step in unexpectedly. It is important to make sure that as many people close to you as possible have the information needed to keep your child healthy.

Plan Ahead for Playdates

You will want your son or daughter to have as normal a childhood as possible. This means playdates and birthday parties, which can also mean added stress. It is important to call ahead several days before the event and talk to the host to make sure there will be food options that your child can eat. You can alleviate some of the burden by offering to bring a dish or snack that is allergen-free, but can be shared with the rest of the children attending. As your child gets older, they will be able to take on some of the responsibility for monitoring their own diet. Go over lists of forbidden foods with them as well as items that could possibly contain allergens that might not be considered. Encourage them to always ask questions and decline graciously if they are offered anything that has the potential to cause a reaction.

Dining Out

When dining out, try to choose restaurants that offer simple, clean menus prepared from scratch. Do not be afraid to ask questions about the ingredients as well as the preparation techniques that might cause cross-contact. It is best to choose dining times that are not busy so servers have time to answer your questions and get clarifications from the chefs when necessary. Avoid buffets, as these tend to have environments where many different foods are close together and cross-contact is possible. If you have found a restaurant chain that offers safe menu items, make it your go-to while traveling, as these chains usually prepare things in the same way with the same ingredients.

Learn About Resources

You can battle the feelings of isolation by seeking out other parents of children with food allergies. Seek out websites that have forums and message boards where families share information with one another. There are support groups and foundations that address specific food allergies where you can find more information about resources you may not have considered. There are even service dogs available that can be trained to detect allergens that your child may be exposed to. Rover has a great article about this that’s worth checking out.

Educate Others

When we are engrossed in the care of our children, it is sometimes easy to forget that conditions such as FPIES, and other specific allergies are not necessarily well-known. Social events with your children are great opportunities to help others learn about dietary dangers, and spreading awareness can help other parents that are experiencing the same struggles that you are.

For more ideas and information from Dolores “Dolly” Santos, visit DollyMath.com

Five Simple DIY Projects To Make Your Home More Accommodating For a Child with Special Needs

Photo via Pixabay by AdinaVoicu

By Paul Denikin, Guest Blogger from DadKnowsDIY

Having a child with special needs can be one of the most amazing, eye-opening, and frustrating experiences a parent can have. The amazing part comes daily; the frustration comes when it’s time to find the best ways to comfort, teach, and love our children and help them feel safe.

Taking steps to accommodate for your home for your child is important for two reasons. While your child is young, you’ll want their home to be inviting and soothing, especially if they are homeschooled or aren’t comfortable being outside of the house often. And if you plan on passing the home over to them or their caregiver when they’re older, you’ll want to take the right steps now to ensure the home is functional and accessible for them for years to come.

Doing this on a budgetor on a limited time framecan be tricky, but never fear! There are many simple DIY projects you can tackle that will make your home more accommodating for your child with special needs, and they won’t break the bank. Here are five of the best.

Create a sensory room

If you homeschool your child or have a playroom or other open area, consider making your own sensory room. This can be a place for your child to go when they are feeling overwhelmed, tired, or just bored, and it can be a great respite from school work. Soft seating areas with textured pillows, string lights, homemade sparkly, beaded “chandeliers,” fluorescent blocks under a blacklight, and a sensory table are all great ideas for this room and can be made on the cheap with inexpensive materials and a Saturday afternoon.

Video monitors

Especially handy where very young children are concerned, video monitors are wonderful tools for families of kids with special needs because they allow moms, dads, and caregivers to keep an eye on several rooms at once. They can give peace of mind for everyone involved, allowing older kids to see the adults even when they aren’t together.

Think about accessibility

Many children with special needs get around just fine on their own, but for some, daily tasks such as showers or baths, or reaching something on a high shelf, can be tricky. Take a look around and picture your home the way your child will see it. Would a safety bar or shower seat be helpful in the bathroom? These are easily installed and can be useful for everyone. Are the cabinets and drawers easily accessible? It might be time to change out knobs for levers, go to an open-cabinet system, or simply move things around a bit so they are easier to get to.

Change out stairs for ramps

Stairs can be a hazard for anyone, so consider upgrading to a ramp. This is something that you should contact a contractor for, as is widening doorways for wheelchair accommodation. Always seek advice from a professional before attempting to make structural changes to your home. If you are considering such changes, remember that you may be able to apply for a tax credit or grant to help with the expense.

Check all safety equipment

All alarms, such as those for fire or carbon monoxide, should be checked often and batteries should always be up-to-date. Consider installing a motion sensor at any exits in the home, especially if your child is very young or is prone to wandering. Locks should be placed on all cabinets or drawers that hold medicine, weapons, or sharp objects.

For more ideas and information from Paul Denikin, visit DadKnowsDIY.com

* Photo via Pixabay by AdinaVoicu








Overnight, Weekend, and Evening Child Care from Gma Village!

Gma Village

In today’s society, many low-income parents work unpredictable schedules and demanding hours. For low-wage workers, the challenge of finding and paying for child care during weekends, evenings, or overnight can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible. Traditional day cares typically operate during daytime hours, leaving parents with non-traditional work schedules unsure where to turn. Fortunately, Gma Village is here!

Gma Village connects low-income families who need short-term or backup child care support with a group of reliable, loving grandmas. With 30 amazing grandmothers offering care in Berkeley and Oakland, low-income parents now have access to a new circle of support. Once you have become a Gma Village member, you can connect with a grandmother who fits with your individual family and your specific needs. This is especially important for any parents who are looking for child care during non-traditional hours, such as overnight, evenings, and weekends. Lots of grandmas are available during all these times!

All of the grandmothers in the program attend a health and safety training and are screened with a background check. To learn more about Gma Village and connect with a loving grandmother, please call 510-545-9057.