HEALTHY EATING GUIDELINES
Healthy eating guideline 1: Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended, with positive support, for babies until around six months. Continued breastfeeding is recommended for at least 12 months – and longer if the mother and baby wish.
Healthy eating guideline 2: If an infant is not breastfed, is partially breastfed, or if breastfeeding is discontinued, use an infant formula until 12 months of age.
Healthy eating guideline 3: Introduce solid foods at around six months.
Healthy eating guideline 4: Make sure that food offered to children is appropriate to the child’s age and development, and includes a wide variety of nutritious foods consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines (see page 4).
Healthy eating guideline 5: Provide water in addition to age-appropriate milk drinks. Infants under the age of six months who are not exclusively breastfed can be offered cooled boiled water in addition to infant formula.
Healthy eating guideline 6: Plan mealtimes to be positive, relaxed and social.
Healthy eating guideline 7: Encourage children to try different food types and textures in a positive eating environment.
Healthy eating guideline 8: Offer an appropriate amount of food, but allow children to decide themselves how much they will actually eat.
Healthy eating guideline 9: Offer meals and snacks at regular and predictable intervals.
Healthy eating guideline 10: Ensure that food is safely prepared for children to eat – from the preparation stages to consumption.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendation: For healthy development in infants (birth to 1 year), physical activity – particularly supervised floor-based play in safe environments – should be encouraged from birth.
Recommendation: Toddlers (1 to 3 years) and pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years) should be physically active every day for at least three hours, spread throughout the day.
Recommendation: Children younger than two years of age should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games).
Recommendation: For children two to five years of age, sitting and watching television and the use of other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games) should be limited to less than one hour per day.
Recommendation: Infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers should not be sedentary, restrained or kept inactive for more than one hour at a time – with the exception of sleeping.
Australian Dietary Guidelines
To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs.
Children and adolescents should eat sufficient nutritious foods to grow and develop normally. They should be physically active every day and their growth should be checked regularly.
Older people should eat nutritious foods and keep physically active to help maintain muscle strength and a healthy weight
Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day:
plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under the age of two years).
And drink plenty of water.
Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.
a. Limit intake of foods high in saturated fat such as many biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other savoury snacks.
Replace high fat foods which contain predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado.
Low fat diets are not suitable for children under the age of two years.
b. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added salt.
Read labels to choose lower sodium options among similar foods.
Do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the table.
c. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks.
d. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake. For women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.
Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.
Care for your food; prepare and store it safely.
© Commonwealth of Australia, 2013.
The Get Up & Grow: Healthy eating and physical activity for early childhood guidelines and accompanying resources have been developed by child health and early childhood professionals in collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. State and territory governments were also consulted in the development of these resources.
The Get Up & Grow resources are designed to be used in a wide range of early childhood settings by families, staff and carers, and to support a consistent, national approach to childhood nutrition and physical activity. When applying the guidelines and recommendations outlined within the resources, early childhood settings will also need to meet any other requirements set out in state, territory or federal regulatory arrangements.
These healthy eating and physical activity resources are based on three key national health documents that focus on children, namely:
The Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013) and the Infant Feeding Guidelines (2012), which form the basis for nutrition policy in Australia (available in Section 4: Further Reading).
The National Physical Activity Recommendations for Children 0 to 5 years, which has been developed to guide policy and practice around physical activity for young children (summary available at the end of Section 2: Physical Activity).
This collection of resources has also been developed in recognition of the rich cultural and religious diversity in Australia. To ensure that a range of needs were considered in the development, early childhood staff and carers, associated professionals, and parents from around Australia were consulted through surveys and focus groups. This consultation included a diverse range of people: some from urban, regional and remote locations, some with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, some from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, and some who care for children with a disability.
In Australia, we presently face an increasing problem with overweight and obese children. The intention of these resources is not to specifically target overweight and obesity, but to establish healthy lifestyle habits in children, in particular healthy habits for eating and physical activity. In turn, this will contribute to the prevention of weight problems in children, while promoting optimum growth, addressing other health issues such as dental health, and allowing children to thrive through social, physical and intellectual development.
The goal of the healthy eating guidelines is to promote offering healthy food choices to children (whether food is provided in the setting or brought from home), while also encouraging children to eat to their own appetites, develop positive attitudes toward selecting food, and enjoy eating. The goal of the physical activity recommendations is to support making play a priority, and encourage early childhood staff, carers and families to provide frequent play opportunities in a positive environment.
Four books have been developed to support those who work in early childhood settings and the families of settings:
Staff and Carer Book
Cooking for Children
Directors and coordinators are responsible for the design and equipment of a setting, reviewing or developing healthy eating and physical activity policies, and supporting staff.
This book will assist in:
understanding the rationale behind the outlined guidelines
developing healthy eating and physical activity policies for an early childhood setting
understanding the role of staff, including carers and cooks, and how they can support healthy habits for children and their families.
The Director/Coordinator Book includes copies of each of the resource books. There are additional materials, such as flyers for parents, posters and stickers for the setting, and 11 healthy eating and physical activity newsletter inserts. The newsletter inserts can be easily added into a setting’s newsletter.
Directors and coordinators play a key role in children’s development in early childhood settings. The information in this book will act as a guide for encouraging children and families to get up and grow!
The resources are also recognised through the National Quality Standard for Early Childhood Education and Care which commenced on 1 January 2012. Quality Area 2 of the National Quality Standard requires services to have healthy eating and physical activity embedded in their program for children and these resources provide guidance and support the sector to meet this requirement.
These resources are available as an adapted version for Indigenous communities and have also been translated into nine different culturally and linguistically diverse languages.