Nutrition at the heart of your early years setting

16th February 2018

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Edwina Revel, RNutr, Programme Director, Wellbeing and Nutrition Team

Early years settings continue to play a central role in supporting young children and their families to establish healthy eating habits. The latest figures from Ofsted, Spring 2016, estimated there are 452,100 early years staff and 3.1 million registered childcare places in England. It is clear, as child care providers, you are supplying an increasing proportion of the total food eaten by children across the day.  Children in full day care can received up to 90% of their energy and most other nutrients whilst in your care. As a result, the need for evidence based information and support for you, as early years staff, in this sector is essential.

The current Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) guidelines state “meals, snacks and drinks must be healthy, balanced and nutritious”. Ofsted assesses how early years settings are successfully supporting children to gain “knowledge of how to keep themselves healthy” and “make informed choices about healthy eating, [and] fitness” throughout their entire inspection. As an early years settings are you using the Eat Better Start Better – A Practical Guide, voluntary food and drink guidelines to support your setting to meet EYFS and Ofsted requirements?

Our team of nutritionists have complied the following key points to support your settings to provide an outstanding standard of nutrition provision across your business.

Top 5 Recommendations

  • Develop a Food and Drink Policy in consultation with staff and families. It will express a shared vision of the ethos, status and role of food/drink, giving consistent messages about healthy eating
  • It is important that your setting has an infant feeding policy which supports the Unicef- Baby Friendly Initiative. Any information passed to families should reflect the Baby Friendly standards, ensure it is evidence based and free from commercial interests
  • Develop menus in line with current government dietary recommendations for infants and children aged six months to four years. The menu should ensure a balance of nutrients as well as keeping children interested and excited by food across your menu cycle
  • Encourage discussion and learning about food through cooking activities which are linked to the EYFS curriculum. Mealtimes are a great opportunity for children to develop their social skills
  • Support staff to develop their nutrition knowledge. This will encourage conversation with families while offering generic evidence based tips and practical solutions linked to your menus and how well children are eating.

The Early Start, Wellbeing and Nutrition team recognise the challenges you may face as an early years setting and provide a range of services to support your work. The team will be at Childcare Expo at stand B18 to answer questions relating to your nutrition provision. You will also be able to avail of a special promotion code for our online training modules.

Contact the team

Follow us on Twitter: @EarlyStartRNutr

Follow us on Instagram: @earlystartnutrition


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