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.
  • 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.
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 withculturally 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. Cooking for Children is designed to offer guidelines for healthy eating, and contains food ideas that promote children’s growth and development, and that encourage healthy eating habits in children – habits that can form a foundation for later life.

Australia is a diverse community composed of many different families, including Indigenous Australian families and families from all around the world. Each has differing preferences and cultures, and so a range of recipes and styles have been included in Cooking for Children. Discussing specific needs and beliefs with parents and families is the best way to show respect for all cultures and religions, and may offer good ideas that you can share in the setting.

Food is a very important part of children’s social life and development. Cooking for Children is designed to provide a range of eating opportunities and to make healthy eating enjoyable. Cooking for Children includes information on:
  • the types of food suitable for children of different ages
  • easy-to-use recipes with different ingredient options (to allow the use of available ingredients)
  • choosing suitable recipes for children with allergies or intolerances
  • kitchen and general food preparation hygiene.
  • ingredient quantities for six, 25 and 60 children’s serves (quantities can also be used as a guide for easily adjusting your own recipes depending on the number of serves).
As well as the four resource books (Director/Coordinator Book, Staff and Carer Book, Family Book and Cooking for Children) there are additional materials, such as posters and stickers for the setting, flyers for parents, and newsletter inserts. These additional materials are included on a CD that can be found in the Director/Coordinator Book.

The food provided for children in early childhood settings plays an important role in ensuring that children get enough nutrition for healthy growth and development, and helps with forming a foundation for healthy eating throughout life. The information in this book will act as a guide for assisting children and families to get up and grow!