The standards and guidance, which includes menus and recipes that meet the childcare regulations for food and drink, are designed to help nurseries and childminders encourage children to try new foods and instil good eating habits.
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The move forms part of wider efforts by the Welsh Government to support healthy eating in the early years and to ensure children start school at a healthy weight.
The Child Measurement Programme for 2017 found that in Wales around a quarter of children aged four to five were overweight or obese.
The guidance sets out the latest evidence-based food standards and how settings can implement them in practice, covering breakfast, snack, lunch and tea with recipes for spring/summer and autumn/winter.
Recipes include beef and mushroom stroganoff and cod, potato and spinach curry for lunch, with Moroccan fruit salad and courgette and lime cake for dessert. Only water and milk is recommended for children to drink.
There are also three-week sample menus for babies aged seven- to-12 months and children aged one- to-four.
The standards and guidance will be disseminated to all registered childcare settings in Wales through a range of training opportunities and via childcare organisations.
Launching the new guidance, minister for children, Huw Irranca-Davies, said, ‘We want children from all backgrounds to have the best start in life. Ensuring children develop good eating habits early in their lives is absolutely crucial if they are to grow up to be a healthy weight.
‘The early years can have a positive influence on food preferences as a toddler begins to have a decisive say in the foods they choose to eat. The evidence shows that eating habits adopted in early years will be taken forward into later childhood and adult life.
‘So the food they are offered in childcare settings is so important. That’s why we’re launching the new guidance – which will help those who work in childcare to ensure the children they care for eat healthy, nutritious food.’
Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, added, ‘Eating nutritious food is essential for children in their early years. This helps promote healthy growth and development, to attain and maintain a healthy weight, protect teeth from decay and sets the foundations for their future health and wellbeing.
‘Nutrition guidelines are only one element of this Government’s work to prevent and reduce levels of obesity. Through the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, we are developing a 10-year Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales strategy to put in place the building blocks that will help us halt and ultimately reduce levels of obesity and increase the proportion of people who are a healthy weight.’
- The guidance is available here