Minister’s Foreword

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Australian Government

Department of Health and Ageing

Get Up & Grow
Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood


Minister’s Foreword

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
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the Commonwealth. Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Commonwealth Copyright Administration, Attorney-General’s Department, Robert Garran Offices, National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600 or posted at Australian Government - Attorney General's Department website.

Director/Coordinator Book

Minister’s Foreword 2

Summary of guidelines and recommendations 3

Introduction 6

Section 1: Healthy Eating 9

Breastfeeding (Guideline 1) 9

Infant formula (Guideline 2) 14

Introducing solids (Guideline 3) 16

Family foods (Guideline 4-9) 20

Food safety 35

Section 2: Physical Activity 43

Physical Activity 43

Sedentary behaviour and screen-time 54

Section3: Policy 59

Policy 59

Section 4: Further Reading 67

For more information 67

Glossary of Terms 74

Section 5: Other Resources 77

Staff and Carer Book (separate document) 77

Family Book (separate document) 77

Cooking for Children (separate document) 77

Acknowledgements 77

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).

Summary of guidelines and recommendations


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.


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

Guideline 1

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

Guideline 2

Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day:

  • plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans

  • fruit

  • 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.

Guideline 3

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.

Guideline 4

Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.

Guideline 5

Care for your food; prepare and store it safely.

© Commonwealth of Australia, 2013.

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