Minister O’Gorman launches the Nutrition Standards for Early Learning and Care Services

Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, together with Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and the National Drugs Strategy, has today, launched the Nutrition Standards for Early Learning and Care Services.

The aim of these Nutrition Standards, developed in collaboration with Healthy Ireland and the Department of Health, is to inform the development and implementation of Healthy Eating Policy and practice in Early Learning and Care Services. This is to ensure agreement on the promotion of healthy foods and drinks in main meals, snacks and celebrations in partnership with children, parents, service providers and the wider community.

These standards show the importance of the need to recognise that small children have small tummies and as a result Educators and parents need to be mindful of the portion sizes that children receives when eating. The Children’s Food Pyramid will assist families in making healthier choices for their child as it provides a range of information on the number of servings from each shelf needed at different ages. It also recognises that some children of the same age will need more food and some will need less.

Minister O’ Gorman said:

“Good nutrition in a child’s early years lays a healthy foundation for healthy eating habits and is essential for their future health and well being. With some young children getting up to 80% of their daily nutrition in Early Learning and Care Services, ELCs have a key role to play in supporting children’s development of lifelong healthy eating patterns, skills, behaviours and attitudes.

“Helping children develop a healthy relationship with food is something that will benefit them for their entire lives.”

Minister Naughton said:

“These standards are an important tool to ensure that the healthy choice is the easier choice for children, recognising that we all have a role to play in promoting healthy eating.

“I am confident that these standards will assist parents and Early Learning and Care Services to help children develop a healthy relationship with food which will set them up for a healthier life.”