The School Food Trust (SFT) has issued new voluntary nutrition guidelines for pre-school children aimed at reducing obesity in under-fives, following a report that found many were eating food more suitable for adults.
Nurseries, child-minders and other providers of early-years services now have a nationally-recognised source of information about the foods they should offer young children, portion sizes, sample menus and recipes.
Advice on dealing with fussy eating and involving children in cooking is also included.
According to an independent report in 2010, childcare providers and parents were calling for clearer guidance. The SFT said that while many childcare providers were already doing good work in this area, research suggests that some are giving young children food that is more appropriate for older children and adults.
This can mean children eat too little energy, carbohydrate and essential minerals such as iron and zinc, and too much salt and sugar.
Nutritionist Patricia Mucavele from the SFT said that the training was being piloted with five local authorities and would be coming to more areas in the next 12 months. "This is just the beginning, and we hope that as many providers as possible will use these guidelines to help children get a healthy start in life," she added.
The guidelines can be downloaded for free from www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/eatbetterstartbetter or pre-ordered in hard copy.
By Janie Stamford
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