It’s not uncommon for daycares to have some restrictions about what food parents can send with their children. While some restrictions make sense—such as limitations on potential allergens like peanuts—others can leave parents scratching their heads.
For example, in 2013, a story about a mother’s homemade meal at daycare went viral. According to the mother’s story via HuffPost, she had sent her child to daycare with “homemade roast beef and potatoes, carrots, an orange, and some milk.” When the child returned home, they had been given a $10 penalty for not having enough grains, which the daycare resolved by giving the child Ritz crackers.
Now, a video on the topic of daycare lunches has gone viral and sparked discussion on TikTok. In a clip with over 1.2 million views as of Friday, TikTok user @mammathings shows herself preparing a packaged lunch.
“When daycare makes you send a lunch and…You aren’t allowed any packaged foods…and they request warm homemade meals over winter,” she writes in the text overlaying the video. The video itself shows the TikToker pouring a microwavable meal into a resealable container, supplementing the meal with a packaged bag of crackers emptied and put into a second resealable container.
Bang some berries in and a banana 😂♬ THEY ARE GONNA KNOW
This topic has been explored on TikTok before. Last month, a user’s video on TikTok went viral after showing how they repackaged McDonald’s to circumvent their child’s school’s rules about takeout food.
In the comments section under @mammathings’s video, many users complained about similar restrictions at their daycares, with several claiming they performed a comparable action in response.
“I do this for wrapper free day. Cookies into a container,” a user said.
“My pre-school Job made us pack homemade lunches to ‘set a good example,’” another recalled. “I literally did this.”
“We go to a green school where nothing can have packaging.. so I take it all out of packaging and o it it in reusable bags and bentos,” a third stated.
Several users pointed out that, while such policies may have good intentions, they can cause issues for parents.
“I mean I get what they’re trying to do but also like, parents have busy lives,” a user noted.
“Well that would never work for my neurodivergent kiddo,” explained a second. “Packaged foods are the ONLY thing he’ll eat.”
In the comments section, the TikToker said this policy was not ubiquitous across Australia, where she is based.
“It’s just part of the rules,” she says of this particular daycare’s food policy. “They have a 2.5-year waiting list atm they kinda do whatever they want they are the hottest place.”
One commenter shared that no matter what the policy says, the child’s health and comfort are most important.
“As a daycare teacher I can promise you it’s management and as long as kids are fed teachers don’t care,” detailed a commenter.
Update July 11, 4:50pm CT: In a TikTok DM exchange with the Daily Dot, @mammathings offered more insight into her situation.
“It’s an outdoor-focused, open play day care,” she detailed. “They are really focused on health and well-being…They do this for health reasons as well as for staff to have an easy time (opening packages can be hard for little ones).”
She claimed that her video on the subject was largely a joke, explaining “that this isn’t what I do everyday or something I even really suggest. It was joke by a tired mum in the moment.”
“I don’t think the staff have an issue [with it]; it’s more just a management thing,” she stated. “I don’t feel like there is that much pressure.”