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What is Grow Healthy?

In the U. S., the number of children who are obese has doubled in recent years. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children who are obese can experience decreased health, lower self-esteem, fewer friends, and depression. All of these can lead to children’s poor academic performance.

The AAP recommends that child care programs create policies and practices that help children maintain a healthy weight. Your child care center is partnering with ABC Grow Healthy to promote your child’s health and well-being through healthy nutrition. ABC Child Care, South Carolina’s Quality Improvement System at the Division of Early Care and Education, has new Grow Healthy standards for all child care programs participating in the ABC system.

Following are practices that you will see in your child’s program:

  • For children 2 years and older, only skim or 1% milk will be served
  • No sugar sweetened beverages will be served
  • Fruit will be offered at least twice per day and juice only once per day
  • Children age 2 and under will not view media or use computers
  • Infants and toddlers will not be placed in restrictive equipment.
  • Physical activity will not be used as punishment, nor will it be withheld as punishment.
  • Children will participate in planned physical activity at least 2 times per day.

You will also notice:

  • More vegetables and whole grains offered
  • Fewer fried or pre-fried vegetables and high-fat meats served
  • Limited sweets offered weekly
  • A variety of materials will be provided to encourage active play both indoors and outdoors


In addition to the guidelines described above, your child’s program will also adopt other practices designed to promote your child’s health.

  • Food will not be used as a reward or punishment
  • Your child care program will develop a written nutrition policy that will be available to all families.
  • The teachers and staff at your child care center will attend training on nutrition.
  • Your child will have at least one opportunity per week to learn about nutrition.
  • Ask you to dress your child in clothes and shoes that allow them to be physically active.
  • Create safe places for infants and toddlers to play outside, including mats or blankets for infants who are not yet walking.
  • Develop a written physical activity policy that will be available to all families.
  • Ensure that teachers and staff attend training on promoting children’s movement and physical activity.

While in child care, your child has important opportunities to practice skills that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Together we can implement practices that will help your child maintain a healthy weight and develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime!

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