The Healthy Eating Advisory Service has new resources available to support early childhood services to introduce healthy foods in fun and engaging ways.
Establishing healthy eating patterns early in a child’s life is central to their health and wellbeing, both now and into the future. Early childhood educators have an important role to play in promoting and supporting healthy eating, however meeting this expectation can be a challenging task when dealing with ‘fussy’ eating.
Fussy eating, such as refusing to try certain colours or textures of food, spitting food out, or favouring foods which are familiar is not uncommon. It’s developmentally normal for young children to be ‘fussy’ or uncertain with new foods, with research showing that up to 50 per cent of children aged between birth and three years of age refusing to eat new or different foods at least half of the time.
The Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) has developed new healthy curriculum activity resources to provide educators with advice on simple, fun and educational ways to overcome fussy eating and get children interested in new foods. The advice is linked to the National Quality Framework and Early Years Learning Framework and incorporates using unfamiliar foods in different and non-food ways such as science and play.
These activities can help to normalise healthy foods which can result in children being more likely to try new foods at mealtimes. For example, educators might read children a book that features vegetables, bake healthy carrot muffins with them or even set up a play produce shop.
Ensuring mealtimes are relaxed and set up appropriately and that educators role model healthy eating is also important, as is encouraging families to reinforce healthy eating messaging at home.
To complement the new resources, HEAS has also developed a series of bite-size ‘How-to’ videos. In each one, early years nutrition expert, Amy, provides simple and practical ideas on introducing new foods in key areas like play, science and mealtimes.