Nutrition

Good nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Having good nutrition improves pregnant women’s and children’s ability to grow, develop, and achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Eating healthy foods helps pregnant women and children get the nutrients their bodies need to stay healthy, active, and strong.

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Nutrition Assessment

A nutrition assessment includes a determination of growth and development, and diet and physical activity. Explore these resources to help you determine risk factors for nutrition-related issues and concerns.

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Clinical Growth Charts
Find links to clinical growth charts for infants and young children from birth to age 36 months, children and adolescents ages 2 to 20, and preschool-age children ages 2 to 5.

Food and Nutrition Assistance

The United States Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies support a broad spectrum of food and nutrition assistance programs. Learn more about programs that provide supplemental foods, nutrition education, and breast-feeding support. Also, find out about programs that provide referrals to other services for pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children.

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Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
Explore this webpage for more information on the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Find links to program eligibility requirements, how to apply, state contacts, reimbursement rates, program performance, resources, and other topics.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
This webpage provides information about the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). There are links to program eligibility requirements, how to apply, state contacts, and resources such as CSFP foods fact sheets, recipes, policies, and regulations. Also, find a frequently asked questions section.

Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
Learn about the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and find links to program eligibility requirements, how to apply, and tribal/state contacts. Explore resources about available foods, policies and regulations, a management-evaluation module, and publications.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Discover what assistance is available for eligible families through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Links to program eligibility requirements, how to apply, and how to find retailers that accept SNAP benefits are provided. You’ll also find frequently asked questions and other resources.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
Find out about the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Links to program eligibility requirements, how to apply, and state contacts are included. Also, find other resources including available foods, policies and procedures, and recipes.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
This webpage provides a description of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Explore links to program eligibility requirements, how to apply, state contacts, policy resources, and frequently asked questions. You’ll also find WIC nutrition coordinator and breastfeeding coordinator contacts, and information about the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.

Nutrition Education

Good nutrition plays a critical role in pregnant women’s and children’s overall health. Explore these resources to find ways to promote consuming safe and healthy foods and beverages during scheduled meals and snacks in a pleasant environment.

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ChooseMyPlate.gov
A variety of nutrition information for consumers is offered on this website. Topics include weight and calories, physical activity, healthy eating tips, recipes, cookbooks, menus, and daily food plans.

Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
Healthy eating is important to each child’s growth and development. Families and staff can be supportive in this process. Learn about the 5-2-1-0 messages and review tips to help children eat healthy.

Food Safety for Pregnant Women [PDF, 3.4MB]
This booklet provides guidance for pregnant women on how to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Find out why food safety is important during pregnancy. There is also information about major pathogens that cause foodborne illness, making wise food choices at home and when eating out, and foods at higher and lower risk for causing foodborne illness. Other topics include preparing foods safely, cold storage, and safe food-handling practices to use while shopping. Also learn about food-product dating, transporting groceries, symptoms of foodborne illness, and a foodborne illness action plan.

Grow It, Try It, Like It!
Grow It, Try It, Like It! is a garden-themed nutrition education kit featuring MyPlate. It introduces children to three new fruits and vegetables: peaches, strawberries, and cantaloupe and spinach, sweet potatoes, and crookneck squash. Early childhood educators can use the seven lessons to promote learning at home with fun parent-child activities. Share family-sized recipes that give tips for cooking with children.

Growing Healthy Postcard
Explore ways to be healthy and active. Topics include eating fruits and vegetables, limiting screen time, participating in physical activity, and limiting the consumption of sweetened beverages. The information is presented in English and Spanish.

Growing Healthy: A Guide for Head Start Managers and Families about Healthy Active Living for Young Children,
Head Start staff and parents can use the information in this guide to help young children be healthy. Learn about weight management, and feeding babies, toddlers, and preschool-age children. Also, find information about how to keep babies, toddlers, and preschool-age children physically active. The guide is available in English and Spanish (español).

Growing Healthy: Feeding Your 9 Month Old
Read this guide to find out ways to feed 9 month olds in the healthiest possible way. Topics include serving sizes, transitioning to finger foods, introducing new foods, establishing mealtime routines, and feeding infants of other ages.

Growing Healthy: Feeding Your Preschooler
In this guide, Head Start staff and parents can find out more about how to help feed preschool-age children in the healthiest possible way. Topics include nutritional information, common challenges, helpful tips, mealtimes, and beverage choices.

Growing Healthy: Feeding Your Toddler
Learn ways to help feed toddlers in the healthiest possible way. Topics in this guide include nutritional information, mealtimes, snacks, and beverage choices.

Health Services Newsletter: Food Allergies in Head Start (April 2014)
As the health manager, you can help your program prevent and manage allergic food reactions. You can also support children, staff, and families with ways to avoid exposure to food allergens. Find tips in this issue of the Heath Services Newsletter.

Health Services Newsletter: Healthy Foods from the Ground Up (January 2015)
Good nutrition improves children's health by helping them grow, develop, and maintain a healthy weight. When children are healthy, they are more able to learn and do well in school. This issue features three strategies that may help bring healthier food and a deeper understanding of nutrition to children and families that need it most.

Health Services Newsletter: Nutrition in Pregnancy (May 2015)
One of the most important things women can do for their babies is eat healthy foods during pregnancy. Eating and drinking whole-grain products, fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats, and other nutritious items during pregnancy gives babies a strong start in life. This issue provides information Early Head Start staff can share with pregnant women. The issue also includes descriptions of assistance programs that provide nutrition risk assessment, counseling, and education as well as access to supplemental nutritious foods. Available in Spanish (español)

I Am Moving, I Am Learning: A Proactive Approach for Addressing Childhood Obesity in Head Start Children [PDF, 446KB]
This report provides information about the “I Am Moving, I Am Learning” program. The program introduces the science of obesity prevention and provides resources and best practices for addressing childhood obesity. The report also discusses program goals, how the program has expanded since its inception, and a program evaluation conducted in 2007.

I Am Moving, I Am Learning: A Proactive Approach for Addressing Childhood Obesity in Head Start Children—Summary Report: The First Two Years
Learn about the first two years of the “I Am Moving, I Am Learning” program. The program introduces the science of obesity prevention and provides resources and best practices for addressing childhood obesity in an intentional and purposeful manner. The report also describes the project, its purpose, how it was implemented, and how it has expanded.

Little Voices for Healthy Choices: Beyond Bottles & Baby Food—Setting the Nutritional Foundation for Lifelong Wellness
View this video to learn more about nutrition for infants and toddlers. Topics include healthy eating habits, and modeling healthy and mindful eating. The video also covers subjects such as nutrients, food labels, weight control, breastfeeding, formula feeding, sippy cups, and portion sizes. Songs about feeding infants and toddlers are included.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Health & Nutrition
Find out more about nutritional needs and tips for healthy weight gain during pregnancy. The Daily Food Plans for Moms tool allows pregnant women to enter information about themselves to create a personalized daily eating plan.

Table Project
Explore this introduction to the Table Project. The goal of the effort is to improve Head Start programs’ management and implementation of the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Find links to information about the project, recordkeeping-system information, family-style dining, and other resources.

Tips for Pregnant Moms [PDF, 1.6MB]
This fact sheet helps women make healthy food choices, plan meals, and stay physically active during pregnancy. Find tips for eating appropriate portions and guides about which foods to choose. There is also information about visiting a health professional, the right amount of weight to gain, how to include seafood in a healthy diet, and a daily meal plan. The fact sheet is available in English and Spanish.

Nutrition Policies and Procedures

Programs are required to develop, revise, implement, and evaluate policies and procedures relating to nutrition services. The following resources contain nutrition education policies and procedures to help instill safe and healthy eating practices.

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Early Head Start Tip Sheet No. 3: Formula at EHS Socialization, August 2010
Learn how to provide infant formula for infants and toddlers during socialization activities in Head Start. This tip sheet also provides applicable Head Start Program Performance Standards and resources.

Health Services Newsletter: Family Style Meals (March 2015)
It is important that Head Start programs partner with families to build healthy eating habits early. One way to do this is to serve meals family-style. Family-style meals are a great way to introduce healthy foods, model healthy behaviors, and provide chances for nutrition education. This newsletter discusses the importance of serving family-style meals in Head Start programs. It also discusses how to serve family-style meals and how to engage families to serve family-style meals at home.

Last Reviewed: October 2016

Last Updated: February 7, 2017