Element 2.1.3: Healthy lifestyle

Healthy eating and physical activity are promoted and appropriate for each child.
National Law & Regulations

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 2.1.3

Section 51(1)(a) Conditions on service approval (safety, health and wellbeing of children)

Regulation 78 Food and beverages

Regulation 79 Service providing food and beverages

Regulation 80 Weekly menu

What Element 2.1.3 aims to achieve

Healthy eating and physical activity contribute to children’s ability to socialise, concentrate, cooperate and learn. Learning about healthy lifestyles, including nutrition and physical fitness, is integral to wellbeing and self-confidence (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 30; Framework for School Age Care, p. 29).

Good nutrition is essential to healthy living and enables children to be active participants in play and leisure (Framework for School Age Care, p. 29). Education and care settings provide many opportunities for children to experience a range of nutritious food and to learn about healthy food choices from educators and other children.

Physical activity enhances brain development, coordination and social and motor skills and helps children to build confidence in their own abilities, develop their independence, and enjoy being active. The educational leader and educators foster physical and psychological development in children by encouraging physical activity that is challenging, extends thinking and offers opportunities to take manageable risks. Instead of trying to eliminate all risk from children’s play, it is important to understand that risky play can be acceptable where the benefit to children’s learning outweighs the risks. Risks can be managed through conducting risk assessments, and weighing the obligation to protect children from foreseeable risk of harm against the benefit of providing children with a stimulating play environment.

See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 2.1.3 (for all services)

Healthy eating


Assessors may observe:

  • educators:
    • engaging children in experiences, conversations and routines that promote relaxed and enjoyable mealtimes and promote healthy, balanced lifestyles (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 32; Framework for School Age Care, p. 31)
    • using cooking experiences to further children’s understandings of healthy food and nutrition
    • following the service’s procedures for the safe storage and heating of food and drink
    • never using food to reward or punish children
    • encouraging children to eat healthy food without requiring them to eat food they don’t like or to eat more than they need, including supporting children to recognise when they are hungry or ‘full’
    • sitting with children and modelling, implementing and reinforcing healthy eating and nutrition practices with children during mealtimes
    • consulting children about their routines and meal times
Birth to three
  • responding to babies’ verbal and non-verbal cues about their preferred food preferences and meal times

  • children:
    • showing an awareness of healthy lifestyles and good nutrition
    • being provided with food that is consistent with the:
  • Australian Government guidelines Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood, and/or
  • Australian Dietary Guidelines
    • eating food that is consistent with advice provided by families about their child’s dietary requirements, likes, dislikes, and any other requirements families have regarding their child’s nutrition
    • who have not eaten at the routine time or who are hungry being provided with food outside of routine meal and snack times
School age children
  • being provided with food and drinks consistent with the menu
  • having ready access to water and being regularly offered water throughout the day
  • being involved in choosing and preparing healthy meals
  • adequate quantities of food available for children that are consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines, as well as sufficient food for children who may request more
  • babies being fed individually by educators according to each child’s routine
  • educators following the service’s procedures for the safe storage and heating of food and drink, including breast milk
  • a supportive environment for mothers to breastfeed
  • children being supported by educators to feed themselves.

Assessors may discuss:

  • how the service:
    • meets the needs of children with special dietary requirements
    • consults with families and children to learn about children’s individual requirements for food, their likes and dislikes in relation to food and any culturally appropriate food requirements
Birth to three
  • supports families’ choices regarding infant feeding, including breastfeeding and bottle feeding
  • supports families who choose to breastfeed their child while they are at the service

Assessors may sight:

  • the service’s health and safety policy, including nutrition, food, drink and dietary requirements
  • program planning including cooking experiences that promote healthy eating and knowledge of nutrition
  • the service’s policy on dealing with medical conditions such as anaphylaxis and allergies
  • written procedures for the safe storage and heating of food and drink
  • resources for families and children on healthy eating and referrals to further information
  • written menus (where the service is responsible for providing food) on display, detailing the food provided for children that are consistent with the:
  • if the menu is changed, notification is displayed for families so that they are informed of their children’s meals that day
  • furniture and utensils that are age appropriate and encourage children to be positively involved in and enjoy mealtimes
Birth to three
  • evidence that families are provided with daily information about their child’s intake and experiences with food and drink
  • written procedures for the safe storage and heating of babies’ bottles and breast milk

Physical activity


Assessors may observe:

  • educators:
    • implementing physical games and activities as part of the program and encouraging each child’s participation
    • encouraging and supporting children to participate in new or unfamiliar physical activities according to each child’s abilities and their level of comfort
    • becoming involved and demonstrating enjoyment in children’s physical activity
    • encouraging children to identify and manage risks in their play, including providing opportunities for children to problem-solve
  • children:
    • being encouraged and supported to use increasingly complex sensory motor skills and movement patterns that:
  • combine gross and fine motor movement and balance
  • increase their spatial awareness
  • use their problem-solving skills (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework, p. 32)
    • having frequent opportunities to engage in active play
    • showing enthusiasm for participating in physical play and negotiating play spaces to ensure the safety and wellbeing of themselves and others
    • helping to plan and set up physical play activities and equipment
    • initiating and leading physical play activities with peers
  • children and educators talking about how their bodies work and the importance of physical activity to people’s health and wellbeing
  • educators planning and implementing opportunities for children to engage in dance, creative movement and drama and to respond to traditional and contemporary music and storytelling
  • indoor and outdoor areas that are organised in ways to promote safe physical play and activity for children of different age groups and capabilities
Birth to three
  • provision of safe areas and encouragement for babies to practise rolling over, sitting, crawling, standing, walking and climbing
  • support for children to develop co-ordinated movement through planned experiences, such as action songs, dancing and throwing and kicking balls.

Assessors may discuss how the service:

  • maintains a balance between spontaneous and planned physical activity, and passive and active experiences, for all children
  • manages risk while providing a stimulating learning and play environment for children
  • considers children’s voices in planning physical activities, including opportunities for physical play that support the abilities, diversity and backgrounds of each child attending the service
  • provides appropriate resources to support children’s interest and participation in physical activity.

Assessors may sight:

  • how the planned program incorporates physical activity that meets each child’s capabilities and extends their development, including how it balances quiet/passive play times with more energetic outdoor play
  • evidence that information about the importance of physical activity to children’s health and development is communicated to families.