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Good nutrition and plenty of physical activity are key to a young child’s growth and development. These behaviors begin early in life and are fostered by the environment in which children live and play. Because many children spend much of their day in family- or center-based childcare programs, these settings play a critical role. 

The Boston Healthy Child Care Initiative (BHCCI) helps child care programs improve their capacity to implement policies and practice that support healthy eating and physical activity.  The project links to other evidence-based practices, such as the University of North Carolina, Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC)  and Let’s Move! Childcare

The goal of BHCCI is to promote policy, systems and/or environmental change strategies in child care settings to increase the number of child care providers who:

  • Provide access to healthy foods,
  • Provide access to healthy beverages,
  • Provide access to physical activity opportunities
  • Decrease access to screen time
  • Increase opportunities for breastfeeding

Program Components:

  • All Boston center-based and family childcare program educators are invited to attend free interactive workshops on best practices for creating healthy childcare policies and environments.  Educators receive continuing education credits through the MA Department of Early Education and Care upon completion. Workshops are offered in English and in Spanish.
  • As part of the workshops, childcare program staff complete self-assessments of their programs’ adherence to best practice standards, using the national Let’s Move Childcare checklists.
  • Staff then develop an action plan of policy, practice, and environmental changes that they can make at their individual programs. 
  • Technical assistance and incentives for programs to support changes are provided by the BHCCI coordinator.
  • Programs that achieve adherence to eight best-practice standards from Let’s Move Childcare receive the Mayor’s Boston Healthy Childcare Recognition Award. 

​​As of April 2014, thirty one childcare programs have received recognition. View a list of recognized providers here.​

Best-Practice Standards

  1. Water – Drinking water is available inside and outside, where it is visible. Program staff may serve water during snack time.
  2. Sugary drinks – Sugary drinks (such as Kool-Aid, fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea, and soda) are never offered.
  3. Fruits/vegetables – Fruit (not juice) and/or a vegetable (not including French fries, tater tots, hash browns, or dried beans) is offered to toddlers and preschoolers at every meal.
  4. Whole grains – High fiber, whole grain foods (whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, cheerios, etc) are offered two or more times per day.
  5. Physical activity – Both indoor and outdoor active play time (where the child is not sitting, is moving all parts of the body, and is using gross motor skills) is provided to all infants, toddlers, and preschool children, including those with special needs, for at least 60 minutes a day for toddlers and 90 minutes for preschoolers.  Infants should have short supervised periods of physical activity (tummy time, crawling), and limited use of swings and infant seats (15 minutes or less).
  6. Screen time – Toddlers are allowed to watch television or videos no more than 3-4 times per year or never.  Preschoolers are allowed to watch television no more than 30 minutes per week.
  7. Infant feeding – Facility provides written/verbal communication to support breastfeeding to all parents. For breastfeeding mothers needing to store expressed milk, the facility provides sufficient refrigerator and freezer space that is always available.  The milk must be labeled with the name and date.
  8. Policy – Programs incorporate these seven standards into written policies that are shared with parents.
Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
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