Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood - Staff and Carer Book

Healthy Eating Guideline - Offer an appropriate amount of food, but allow children to decide themselves how much they will actually eat

Page last updated: 25 May 2011

Adults are responsible for providing children with appropriate amounts of healthy and nutritious food. Children should then be given the opportunity to decide what and how much they will eat from the food offered. This allows them to eat according to their appetite and learn to respond to their body’s signals of hunger and fullness.

If two courses are offered at a meal, both should be nutritious and consist of foods from the basic food groups. This means that children can eat the second course regardless of whether they finish the first course, as it is just as nutritious. If a child refuses to eat at any meal or snack, do not force the child to eat.

When children bring their own meal or snack, it is still up to the child to decide how much food he or she will eat. Send home any uneaten food in the lunchbox. Whenever possible, food should be served at the table so that children can help themselves. Ensure that appropriate platters, serving bowls and serving utensils are available so children can comfortably serve their own food. By allowing them to serve themselves, children are given opportunities to develop coordination and fine motor skills such as pouring, serving and passing. Children also develop language and communication skills
when eating in a social environment.