Childminders and nurseries must receive clear guidance on food for under-fives, a report has urged.
A panel of independent experts have concluded that some childcare providers are confused about how to ensure young children eat and drink healthily.
The report's recommendations would save staff time on researching and developing menus and help parents, said the advisory panel chair, Dr Anthony Williams.
The consultant paediatrician said the report showed how providers could be more certain that they are meeting children's nutritional needs.
He said all childcare providers should follow the same guidelines as to what kind of foods to prepare for meals and snacks, and added: "Unless all childcare providers get a better steer on what they should be offering, children in different settings will continue to have very different food experiences - and a very different start to learning about what foods are good for them."
The report, commissioned by the government and supported by the School Food Trust, comes after the National Child Measurement Programme revealed that almost a quarter of children are obese or overweight by the time they start school at the age of five.