Department of Health press release: 1 October 2020
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD, together with the Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman TD and the Minister of State for Public Health and Wellbeing, Frank Feighan today launched the first ever National Healthy Eating Guidelines for one to four year olds.
The new guidelines aim to help parents and carers establish good eating habits in children. Developed by nutrition experts in Ireland, the guidelines are based on Irish dietary evidence. They include a newly designed children’s food pyramid which will help people understand what children should be eating, what portion sizes look like and when treats should be given.
This early stage in a child’s life is well recognised as a critical phase when dietary habits are formed. With so many confusing messages and information about food it can be difficult to know what to feed children.
Speaking at the launch of the guidelines, Minister Donnelly said:
“We all want to give our children the very best start and helping them to establish a healthy relationship with food is something that will benefit them for their entire lives. These guidelines will help parents and carers to set their children up for a healthier life and are another step to help make the healthy choice the easier choice for everyone.
“As Minister for Health, I’m very glad this progress has been made for the future health of our nation’s children.
“These guidelines represent a significant step in implementing our Obesity Policy under Healthy Ireland and Sláintecare. The suite of resources provides useful and practical nutrition advice to empower parents and to support others including dietitians, health care professionals and preschool teachers. I believe having these guidelines in place for our youngest children is another important part of the foundation on which to build a healthier Ireland for all.”
Minister O’Gorman said:
“The early establishment, and fostering of good nutritional habits in a nurturing, caring society, will provide an excellent foundation for the future health of our nation's children. These Guidelines deliver on a key action in the First 5 Whole of Government strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families which aims to better their lives and I am confident that these will be of great assistance to parents and those working with children, feeding them and helping with their growth and development on a daily basis.”
Minister Feighan said:
“I am of the view that every parent or guardian wants to give their children the best possible start in life. So this is why getting their diet right from an early age is of huge importance for our children’s future development.
Whilst acknowledging just how challenging it can be when trying to feed younger children, the new resources launched today will help parents and others to understand the issues around healthy eating for children much better and they will help families through the first four years of a child’s life.
“A critical message coming from these new guidelines is that we really need to recognise that small children have small tummies and as a result we need to be mindful of the portion sizes that we’re giving them when eating. The Children’s Food Pyramid will help to assist families to make 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.
“Our children are better at making changes when the whole family do it together and I strongly recommend that families try to make these positive changes together. Small changes made now can make a big difference later in life. The development of these resources will ultimately help improve the health and wellbeing of children and their families, and as a result they are an important foundation in the implementation of the Healthy Ireland framework.”
Included in the guidance is new advice for parents on Vitamin D for children aged one to four. Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones and teeth and young children living in Ireland don’t get enough of it in the winter months.
The new advice is that children aged one to four take a vitamin D supplement every day from Halloween (31st October) to St Patrick’s Day (17th March).
A suite of resources to help parents and guardians, healthcare professionals and creche managers is available on gov.ie/healthyireland and on www.mychild.ie
Last updated on: 01 / 10 / 2020