As those working in the early years sector will be aware, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework requires providers to take all necessary steps to keep children safe and well – and providers must be confident that those responsible for preparing and handling food in their setting are competent to do so.
This includes preparing food hygienically, providing meals that are healthy, balanced and nutritious, as well as making sure that food is prepared appropriately for babies and children of different ages, for example mashed, pureed or cut into appropriately sized and shaped pieces where it could be a choking hazard. The EYFS learning and development requirements also state that children must be helped to make healthy choices in relation to food.
A number of organisations have produced guidance that supports providers, parents and carers in building a sound knowledge of how to prepare food for children in the early years – and how to make sure that meals provided are healthy and safe. Early years practitioners may find it useful to refer to this guidance when reviewing policies surrounding food and drink in their setting, or when inducting new members of staff to the EYFS requirements.
We have brought this guidance together below and have set out further details on the content to support providers and practitioners in meeting the food and drink requirements set out in the EYFS.
We would welcome any feedback on whether bringing this guidance together on one page is useful, what you might like to see on this page in the future and if there are any related free resources that you would like to share. Please send your feedback and resources to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eat Better, Start Better
Eat Better, Start Better (produced in 2012 and updated in 2017)
Developed by Action for Children in collaboration with the Children’s Food Trust, following the recommendations of the Advisory Panel for Food and Nutrition in Early Years. This practical guide is to help providers meet the requirement for the provision of healthy, balanced and nutritious food and drink and includes safety guidelines for food groups throughout, including how to prepare food and what to avoid.
Examples menus for early years settings
Developed by Public Health England in collaboration with the Children’s Food Trust and informed by an External Reference Group. This comprehensive guidance includes menus and useful information for early years settings to help them to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage welfare requirements for food and drink, including advice on how to prepare food safely for children depending on their age.
The government has also produced accompanying infographics to go with the early years menus which can be downloaded below.
Safe weaning and foods to avoid giving babies and young children
Reducing unintentional injuries for children under 5
Guidance on reducing unintentional injuries for children under five (produced in 2018)
Produced by Public Health England, working with the Child Accident Prevention Trust and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This guidance focuses on preventing accidents in the home, but provides advice and signposts to a number of resources on accident prevention that will be useful for early years settings to consider in relation to their polices on safe food preparation. Early years practitioners will also find it helpful to refer to guidance produced by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, including specific guidance on choking.
Promoting healthy eating
The Children’s Food Trust in partnership with 4children created three resources for early years settings to help them promote and support healthy eating, produce and share allergen information and catering for special dietary requirements.
This good practice guidance was developed in partnership with 4children to help early years settings adopt and demonstrate a whole setting approach to healthy eating.
This factsheet explains the allergen labelling requirements, which were introduced in December 2014. It outlines the changes and provides information about how early years settings can meet them.
This factsheet outlines the legal requirements and good practice for early years settings when providing food and drinks for children with allergies, intolerances and other special dietary requirements.