Eat better, start better

Getting children eating well for life means starting early. The Eat Better, Start Better guidance and supporting material was developed to help early years providers and practitioners to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage welfare requirement for the provision of healthy, balanced and nutritious food and drink.

This guidance, updated in 2017 reflects the government’s dietary recommendations for children aged 6 months to 5 years and sets out the food and drink guidelines for early years settings in England. Following the advice in this guidance when providing food and drink will help you to meet the nutritional requirements of young children in your care.

The guidance and associated menus contains new information relevant to the youngest children along with the up to date standards.

Toothbrushing resources

Public Health England commissioned this feasibility study of a facilitated toothbrushing and oral health programme. The aim was to support sustained awareness of oral health in 2, 3 and 4 year olds in early years settings as part of the aspiration to achieve a generation free from tooth decay, improve children’s school readiness and give every child the Best Start in Life.

The resources created during this project include a presentation introducing the project to early years practitioners, story sack ideas and an information booklet designed for both practitioners and parents.

Public Health England has also published a toolkit to support commissioning of supervised tooth brushing programmes in early years settings and schools. Many local authorities in England already commission such programmes. This toolkit will help commissioners, public health teams and providers make sure their programmes are evidence-based and safe, and have clear accountability and reporting arrangements.

Example menus for early years settings

Public Health England has launched their new example menus to help early years professionals plan healthy meals for children in their care. These menus can be found here.

The government has also produced accompanying infographics to go with the early years menus which can be downloaded below.

Resources to promote healthy eating

The Children’s Food Trust in partnership with 4children have created three new resources for early years settings to help them promote and support healthy eating, produce and share allergen information and catering for special dietary requirements.

Promoting and supporting healthy eating – A guide for early years settings in England

This best practice guidance has been developed in partnership with 4children to help early years settings adopt and demonstrate a whole setting approach to healthy eating.

Producing and sharing allergen information – A guide for early years settings in England

This factsheet explains the new allergen labelling requirements, which were introduced in December 2014. It outlines the changes and provides information about how early years settings can meet them.

Catering for special dietary requirements: A guide for early years settings in England

This factsheet outlines the legal requirements and best practice for early years settings when providing food and drinks for children with allergies, intolerances and other special dietary requirements.

Physical activity guidelines issued by UK Chief Medical Officers

A report published by the four UK Chief Medical Officers draws upon global evidence to present guidelines for different age groups, covering the volume, duration, frequency and type of physical activity required to achieve health benefits.

Advice is available to encourage good development in babies and children, with the UK Chief Medical Officers recommending lots of ‘tummy time’. As much active play as possible in children under 5 is encouraged, and older children are recommended to be active for an average of 60 minutes a day across the week.

To support this, the government will work with nurseries to find fun opportunities for young children to exercise during the day through the new Daily Toddle initiative.

Early Years infographic