A program of Lutheran Social Services in western North Dakota and Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership in eastern North Dakota

ChildcareAlive! Terms and Definitions

  • Active Play Time

    Active play for children is physical activity with spontaneous and occasional bursts of high energy, which leads to an increase in heart rate. It can occur indoors or outdoors, and can either be adult-led (structured) or child-led (unstructured). Even before children can walk, they can start active play (this means tummy time for infants!). Just remember this: to be considered active play, the activity must be vigorous for short doses of time (in other words, it gets children’s hearts beating faster and breathing slightly deeper than during typical activities).

  • Body Mass Index (for ages 2-20 years):

    Body Mass Index (BMI) is a value calculated from a child's weight and height. BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness for most children and teens, but is not a diagnostic tool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend the use of BMI to screen for overweight and obesity in children beginning at 2 years old.
    BMI means very little if the child’s height and weight are not first measured accurately. Click on these links to make sure height and weight are measured as accurately as possible in your center or home.
    How to measure height accurately
    How to measure weigh accurately

  • Family style meals

    In family style dining, all food is placed in serving bowls on the table and children are encouraged to serve themselves independently or with help from an adult. Child care providers sit at the table and eat with the children. Meals should be served family style to preschoolers and older children all of the time (or as much as possible).
    Benefits to Child:

    • Developmental: Eating family style promotes several key developmental areas, including motor skills, social skills, language, table manners, and independence.
    • Decrease Picky Eating: Family style meals typically have a positive effect on “picky eaters.” Children are more likely to try new foods or eat healthy foods if they see other children or adults eating the same foods.
    • Builds Lifetime Skills: By eating meals family style, children have the opportunity to take ownership of meal time by helping to set the table, serve and feed themselves, and clean up after themselves.

    Benefits to Child Care Provider:

    • Discussion: By eating family style meals, the child care provider has the opportunity to sit and talk with children, reinforcing good table manners and proper portion sizes. Providers also have the chance to reinforce other lessons by discussing the different characteristics of the foods being eaten, like color, quantity, shape, texture, and temperature.
    • Role Modeling: Children often learn what to eat by watching others. Take the opportunity during family style meals to model eating healthy foods to children. Talk about how delicious each food is, and what you love about the food, especially new foods.
  • 100% Fruit Juice

    Juice that is expressed from fruit without being diluted with other substances. 100% fruit juice has some benefits of fruit if served in small portions (4-6 ounces per day day). However, consuming a fresh fruit is more nutritious than drinking juice (i.e., eating an apple is more nutritious than drinking 100% apple juice).

    If a label on a beverage contains the word beverage, drink, punch, or cocktail, then it is likely NOT 100% fruit juice. The % juice will be listed near the top of the food label. Do not serve beverages to children that are less than 100% juice, as these provide lots of sugar without providing nutrients.

  • Lean Meats

    Beef, poultry, pork, fish, and beans are part of the protein group of MyPlate. Lean meats are those cuts of meat which have less fat (and less calories) than other cuts. In general, baked or broiled chicken, turkey, and fish tend to be leaner than beef. However, it is possible to serve lean beef to children in the childcare setting.
    Examples of lean meats include:

    • Beef: Ground beef that is at least 90% lean (may be labeled 90/10, or 93/7), ground round, top sirloin, or chuck shoulder
    • Pork: pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham (Canadian bacon).
    • Poultry: skinless chicken or turkey breasts.
    • Deli Meats: turkey, ham, or roast beef.
    • Beans (without added fats) are not a meat, but are a naturally lean protein source and can be substituted for meats in meals. Beans are also part of the vegetable group and can be served as a healthy side dish to another lean meat.

    Examples of high-fat meats (which should not be served) include:

    • Beef: Ground beef that is less than 90% lean (85/15, 80/20, or 70/30).
    • Pork: bacon, sausage, hot dogs.
    • Poultry: fried or pre-fried chicken (including chicken nuggets/tenders), dark meat of chicken/turkey (legs, thighs, wings).
    • Deli Meats: bologna, salami, pepperoni, pastrami.
  • Pre-fried foods

    Foods which have been previously fried during processing and prior to packaging. These products are often frozen and may state “fully cooked” on the package. Examples include: frozen chicken nuggets, frozen French fries, frozen tator tots, frozen hash browns, frozen fish sticks, and frozen chicken breast patties. Although you may cook these foods in an oven, they were fried before they were ever packaged, and therefore should not be offered to children in child care.
    **Remember that some common snacks are also fried foods, such as tortilla/potato chips, corn chips, cheetos, crunchy taco shells, and donuts.