Feeding Baby at Nursery

As a nursery or childminding setting, you play a central role in feeding babies and establishing healthy eating habits from an early age. Your staff are also well placed to provide baby feeding information to families, due to the frequency of contact you have with them.

It’s really important for your setting to have an Infant Feeding policy which outlines the guidance you follow when offering breastmilk, infant formula, and solid foods.

Parent Dropping Baby Off at Nursery

Baby Feeding Guidelines

The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding from birth, through to a child’s second birthday and beyond, alongside the introduction of solid foods, around six months (WHO, 2018).


To support infants to receive their energy and nutrient requirements, it’s recommended to breastfeed:

  • exclusively for six months and to
  • continue up to two years and beyond (SACN, 2018).

As highlighted by the NHS (opens in new tab), the longer mothers breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits for mother and baby.

Your early years settings can support mothers to continue to breastfeed in a warm and welcoming environment, which will provide additional mother-child bonding time.

First Infant Formula

Families who formula feed their baby should be supported to do so safety and correctly.

If offering infant formula, families should use a first infant formula throughout the first year. It doesn’t matter which brand parents choose, as they’re all very similar.

It’s also important to provide guidance to staff in your nursery setting on how to prepare first infant formula correctly and safely.

Introducing Solid Foods

Introducing a baby to solid foods is also referred to as weaning, or complementary feeding. It’s recommended to start when baby is around 6 months old.

At this age, babies should be introduced to a varied diet, alongside their usual breast milk or first infant formula.

Baby being breastfeeding, formula milk preparation, baby taking food from a spoon

5 Top Tips around Baby Feeding in your Early Years Setting

Let’s take a look at the steps your early years setting can take to support families to give their child the best start in life.

1) Policy

Does your Food Policy reflect information on how you support children who are under the age of 1 year? If not, then it’s time to review your policy to include information on how you:

  • Support and encourage breastfeeding
  • Ensure the safe storage and preparation of expressed breastmilk and infant formula
  • Support babies under 1 year to enjoy a variety of foods.

Here are Early Start Nutrition we have develop training to meet this requirement:

  • Developing a Food Policy (opens in new tab) – covers guidance on what to include in your early years settings food policy. Explore topics including: the importance of having a detailed food policy, key information to cover on infant nutrition and how to involve staff, families and children.

Nursery Working Holding a copy of their nursery Food Policy

2) Welcome to Breastfeed Posters

It’s important that you make families aware that you’re a breastfeeding friendly setting. For example, you might display ‘Welcome to breastfeed here’ posters in your parent’s areas, such as the ones below, which can be downloaded here (PDF, 813KB)

Breastfeeding Poster Examples

3) Safe Milk Preparation

Include information on your procedures for the safe preparation of formula milk (see more information in this Start for Life booklet (opens in new tab)

  • Where families offer their baby infant formula, first infant formula should always be the first formula offered. They can stay on first infant formula up until the age of 1 year
  • All brands of formula must legally provide the same amount of key nutrients, meaning no brand is better than another
  • Ensure all staff are confident to prepare first infant formula safely, in-line with the EYFS, which states: “There must be suitable facilities for the hygienic preparation of food for children, if necessary including suitable sterilisation equipment for babies’ food. Providers must be confident that those responsible for preparing and handling food are competent to do so.” 
  • You can share the following video with staff on Making up Infant Formula Safely (opens in new tab)
  • Your policy should also reflect that you do not display any information or use resources from infant feeding companies (such as information leaflets, pens, vouchers).

Start for Life's Guide to Bottle Feeding Booklet Sample

4) Introducing Solid Foods

It’s really important for you to think about the foods you provide for babies aged 6-12 months in your setting.

You should work closely with families to ensure the approach you take in your settings is consistent with what is happening at home.

Image of potatoes being mashed with a potato masher to create a lumpy texture. Image of blended spinach in a blender, image of avocado being mashed with a fork

5) Training and Signposting

The EYFS sets a requirement for staff to engage in appropriate training and development, to ensure they are delivering the best possible outcomes for children. In particular the EYFS outlines that “For children aged under two, at least half of all staff must have received training that specifically addresses the care of babies” (EYFS 3.32).

To ensure staff are well-informed, and knowledgeable to confidently answer parent questions on infant nutrition, it’s important for them to complete training on this topic.

Here are Early Start Nutrition we have develop training to meet this requirement:

There’s lots of ways you can support families by signposting them to local services and evidence-based guidelines.

Happy practitioner working on a laptop

There is a great opportunity to share these requirements with colleagues by viewing our YouTube video Feeding Babies in Nursery

Early Start Nutrition Webinars and Courses

Weaning your Baby Webinar Publicity

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