Licensing criteria for home-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020 defines home-based ECE services as the provision of education or care, for gain or reward, to fewer than 5 children under the age of 6 (in addition to any child enrolled at school who is the child of the person who provides education or care) in:

  1. their own homes
  2. the home of the person providing education or care
  3. any other home nominated by the parents of the children.

These services are licensed in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, which prescribe minimum standards that each licensed service must meet. Licensing criteria are used to assess how the services meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help services meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 541 KB] and printed.

The licensing criteria were last updated in November 2016.

Licensing Criteria Cover

HS19 Supervision while eating

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and Safety practices criterion 19

      Children are supervised while eating.


      The criterion aims to uphold the safety of children by minimising the risk of children choking while eating unsupervised.

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      All babies and children must be closely supervised when eating. Small babies or those children who cannot sit by themselves should be held by an adult whilst feeding. The educator must sit with the children so their attention is on the children and not on completing other tasks.

      Children should eat only when seated, and be encouraged to concentrate on eating only. Eating while walking or playing increases the risk of choking.

      Educators need to be cautious when feeding toddlers small, round, hard or squashy foods like sausage, grapes or apple.

      There are many food allergies and intolerances that may cause adverse effects. Supervising children while eating allows any adverse or allergic reactions to be recognised and appropriate action taken (e.g. medication administered).

      Young children and infants in highchairs must be closely supervised. When supervising an infant or toddler educators need to know how to respond if a child chokes or has an adverse reaction including how to safely remove the child from the highchair without worsening the situation as well as how to get appropriate assistance if required.

      More information on choking is provided by the Ministry of Health.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      • How can educators support children’s safety while they are eating? e.g. making sure there are not too many distractions?
      • How do children learn what is expected of them while eating? e.g. to remain seated until they have finished eating?
      • How can educators support children’s learning while I am supervising their eating?

      If the educator provides the food:

      • Selecting appropriate food for individual children is very important in minimising choking risk. It is important to discuss with a parent or caregiver the foods children can manage safely rather than relying on age alone as the indicator.

      Be aware of foods which are more likely to cause choking:

      • small hard foods that are difficult for children to bite or chew (eg, nuts, large seeds, popcorn husks, raw carrot, apple, celery)
      • small round foods that can get stuck in children’s throats (eg, grapes, berries, raisins, sultanas, peas, watermelon seeds, lollies)
      • foods with skins or leaves that are difficult to chew (eg, sausages, chicken, lettuce, nectarines)
      • compressible food which can squash into the shape of a child’s throat and get stuck there (eg, hot dogs, sausages, pieces of cooked meat, popcorn)
      • thick pastes that can get stuck in children’s throats (eg, chocolate spreads, peanut butter)
      • fibrous or stringy foods that are difficult for children to chew (celery, rhubarb, raw pineapple).

      To reduce the risk of choking on these foods the educator can:

      • alter the food texture – grate, cook, finely chop or mash the food
      • remove the high risk parts of the food – peel off the skin, or remove the strong fibres.