Department of Health and Ageing
Get Up & Grow
Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood
It gives me great pleasure to introduce the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Guidelines for Early Childhood Settings, an initiative that is an important element of the Australian Government’s Plan for Early Childhood and Plan for Tackling Obesity.
Our children’s early years are arguably their most important and establishing healthy behaviours from birth will lay the foundation for lifelong health and wellbeing. Nutritious food and regular physical activity supports the normal growth and development of children and reduces the risk of developing chronic lifestyle related diseases later in life.
As more children spend time in care, early childhood settings can play an important part in supporting healthy choices around nutrition and physical activity. This resource provides practical information and advice to assist practitioners, carers and families in this role.
The guidelines have been designed so that they can be applied in a variety of early childhood settings including centre-based care, family day care and preschools. They are evidence-based and consistent with current thinking on early childhood development.
They will also complement a range of other programs such as the Healthy Kids Check for all four-year-olds before they start school and resources such as the Get Set 4 Life – habits for healthy kids Guide.
These initiatives will help to ensure that all Australian children have the best possible start in life and every opportunity for the future.
The Hon Nicola Roxon
Minister for Health and Ageing
ISBN: 1-74186-913-7 Publications Approval Number: P3-5416
© Commonwealth of Australia 2009
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Minister’s Foreword 2
Summary of guidelines and recommendations 4
Section 1: Healthy Eating 10
Breastfeeding (Guideline 1) 10
Infant formula (Guideline 2) 15
Introducing solids (Guideline 3) 17
Family foods (Guideline 4-9) 21
Food safety 36
Section 2: Physical Activity 44
Physical Activity 44
Sedentary behaviour and screen-time 55
Section3: Policy 60
1.Form a working group that includes key members from the setting. This group will work together to generate or review the policy document. 60
2.Identify key stakeholders. Key stakeholders are likely to include parents, families, staff and carers, directors, managers, coordinators and early childhood or healthcare professionals. Invite them to join the working group. Children are also important stakeholders, so it is good to try and include their views, but they cannot officially take part in a working group. 61
3.Identify any current day-to-day practices that are relevant to food and nutrition and physical activity. Summarise these, as they may form the basis for the policy. 61
4.Prepare a draft policy document. Seek the advice and assistance of experts if possible, as they may be helpful with this. Include any requirements as prescribed by state or national licensing and accreditation. 61
5.Circulate the draft policy to all key stakeholders and invite feedback. It is important that staff and families have the opportunity to comment on the policy before it is put in place. A poster-size summary of the policy can be displayed, so that parents see that healthy eating and physical activity are important to the setting. Alternatively, the policy can be spread over several posters, with different points from the policy displayed over time. 61
6.Implement the new policy. Make any changes that have been set out in the policy document, and ensure that the setting is now operating according to each of the policy statements. Staff may need to be trained in certain areas. Display the policy, so that current parents and carers can view it. Consider ways to share the policy information with new families. 61
7.Monitor and review the policy. It is a good idea to monitor any changes that have been made in the setting due to the new policy. Review the policy every 12 months to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. 61
Section 4: Further Reading 68
For more information 68
Glossary of Terms 75
Section 5: Other Resources 78
Staff and Carer Book (separate document) 78
Family Book (separate document) 78
Cooking for Children (separate document) 78
Get Up & Grow: Healthy eating and physical activity for early childhood provides general non-commercial, evidence-based information to early childhood education and care settings, to assist in developing healthy habits for children birth to five years. For children with particular medical or nutrition conditions, professional medical advice may be required.
Readers should be aware that these resources may contain images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are now deceased.
This resource has been updated to reflect the Infant Feeding Guidelines (2012) and Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013).