Nutrition in the early years


Food glorious food! Nutrition, encouraging healthy eating habits, and learning about food is important, particularly in the early years.

Helping build children's awareness and supporting their development with a healthy balanced diet not only helps improve their health but also lays a foundation for their future wellbeing too. 

Nutrition and food provision in your early years setting is an important area to fully understand and incorporate into your professional practice.

That’s why we’ve pulled together this spotlight guide, packed full of nutrition resources and presented in a deliciously easy to digest way. Bookmark this page and pop back as and when you fancy a bite!

Official guidance (England)

Public Health England has published example menus and useful guidance for early years settings to help meet the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements for food and drink. The guidance offers three-week menus, covering breakfast, lunch, tea, and snacks, detailing the importance of a balanced diet for children in the early years. PACEY helped develop the menus and guidance. 

Free nutrition resources

Nutrition factsheet

Discover what supporting nutrition in your setting means and involves. From considering dietary requirements to variation in your setting with our printable factsheet that caters for members looking for key information from their home nation.

Members can access the free resource on nutrition in MyPACEY.

British Nutrition Foundation videos

Free yummy recipe card

Download this free recipe card to bake savoury swirl lollies! Yummy! Get yours now

Do you have any healthy recipe ideas for children?

Share your ideas with us!

Food safety and hygiene factsheets

Do you provide food in your setting? Make sure you know your food safety and general food hygiene regulations and what it means for you in your setting specifically along with helpful reflective tasks.

Members can access the free resource on food safety and hygiene in MyPACEY.

Let's talk about food blog

Learning about food and nutrition with the children in your setting? Check out this brilliant blog from Clickety Books for some fantastic ideas to help introduce new vocabulary as you explore different foods. 

Nutrition products

This yummy selection of products should whet your appetite for all things nutrition. All available from the PACEY shop with up to 50% OFF for members!

Get set to cook!

This book offers a practical guide to delivering nutritious food in all childcare settings. Get set to cook introduces practitioners to ideas for how to: create healthy, balanced menus; foster children's interest in food; embrace different cultural experiences through food; and be aware of food allergies and intolerances.

It also offers ideas and tips from childcare workers on how to inspire children through food. Links are provided throughout the book to show where activities support delivery of the EYFS and Foundation Phase.

Included are 15 easy, tasty recipes that can be used for menus in all childcare settings.

Food allergens

Since December 2014, childcare providers in England and Wales have been required to comply with The Food Information Regulation. This means giving information about the allergenic ingredients used in the food you provide, including pre-packed food.

Discover more information on food allergens with our guide here, plus we’ve linked directly to the resources you need below.

Food allergens FAQs

Got a question about food allergens regulations? We’ve got it covered in our round-up of frequently asked questions. A useful resource to refer to.

Food allergens factsheet

Members can access our factsheet that covers all the main information you need about food allergens. Take a look now!

Food allergen stickers

Get your handy sticker pack that covers all 14 allergens from the EU Food Information Regulation and can be used with our free menu template that you can download for here, plus our free allergens poster!

Training courses

If you prepare food in your childcare setting it’s important to have a good hygiene qualification. Check out the Level 2 food safety and hygiene course.

Do you qualify for the Healthy Start Programme?

Healthy Start is a government scheme to help improve the health of pregnant women and families with young children on benefits and tax credits.

How to qualify:

You or a parent in your setting may qualify for Healthy Start if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old and you or your family get:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit with a family income of £16,190 or less per year
  • Pension Credit; or
  • Universal Credit with no earned income or total earned income of £408 or less per month for the family. (To find this refer to your Universal Credit award notice in the section “your take home pay for this month”.)

Parents may also qualify if you are under 18 and pregnant, even if you don’t get any of the above benefits.

How to apply

Go to the Healthy Start website for specific details about how to apply, this is where you can download the application form to send to a freepost address or make an online application.

All applications for Healthy Start must, by law, be supported by a registered health professional. This is usually a midwife or health visitor but can be any registered nurse or doctor. It is important that Part B is fully completed, or the application cannot be processed.