The Get Up & Grow: Healthy eating and physical activity for early childhood guidelines and accompanying resources have been developed by child health and early childhood professionals in collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. State and territory governments were also consulted in the development of these resources.

The Get Up & Grow resources are designed to be used in a wide range of early childhood settings by families, staff and carers, and to support a consistent, national approach to childhood nutrition and
physical activity. When applying the guidelines and recommendations outlined within the resources, early childhood settings will also need to meet any other requirements set out in state, territory or federal regulatory arrangements.

These healthy eating and physical activity resources are based on two key national health documents that focus on children, namely:

  • The Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia incorporating The Infant Feeding Guidelines for Health Workers (2003), which forms the basis for nutrition policy in Australia (available in Section 4: Further Reading).
  • The National Physical Activity Recommendations for Children 0 to 5 years, which has been developed to guide policy and practice around physical activity for young children (summary available at the end of Section 2: Physical Activity).
This collection of resources has also been developed in recognition of the rich cultural and religious diversity in Australia. To ensure that a range of needs were considered in the development, early childhood staff and carers, associated professionals, and parents from around Australia were consulted through surveys and focus groups. This consultation included a diverse range of people: some from urban, regional and remote locations, some with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, some from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, and some who care for children with a disability.

In Australia, we presently face an increasing problem with overweight and obese children. The intention of these resources is not to specifically target overweight and obesity, but to establish healthy lifestyle habits in children, in particular healthy habits for eating and physical activity. In turn, this will contribute to the prevention of weight problems in children, while promoting optimum growth, addressing
other health issues such as dental health, and allowing children to thrive through social, physical and intellectual development.
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The goal of the healthy eating guidelines is to promote offering healthy food choices to children (whether food is provided in the setting or brought from home), while also encouraging children to eat to their own appetites, develop positive attitudes toward selecting food, and enjoy eating. The goal of the physical activity recommendations is to support making play a priority, and encourage early childhood staff, carers and families to provide frequent play opportunities in a positive environment.

Four books have been developed to support those who work in early childhood settings and the families of settings:
  • Director/Coordinator Book
  • Staff and Carer Book
  • Cooking for Children
  • Family Book
Directors and coordinators are responsible for the design and equipment of a setting, reviewing or developing healthy eating and physical activity policies, and supporting staff.

This book will assist in:
  • understanding the rationale behind the outlined guidelines
  • developing healthy eating and physical activity policies for an early childhood setting
  • understanding the role of staff, including carers and cooks, and how they can support healthy habits for children and their families.
The Director/Coordinator Book includes copies of each of the resource books and a CD with additional materials, such as flyers for parents, posters and stickers for the setting, and 11 healthy eating and physical activity newsletter inserts. The newsletter inserts can be easily added into a setting’s newsletter.

Directors and coordinators play a key role in children’s development in early childhood settings. The information in this book will act as a guide for encouraging children and families to get up and grow!