A Hawke's Bay early childhood educator says new Government regulation of lunches in early childhood centres should be a matter of "partnership not policing".
And another centre manager is concerned about the timeframe given to adhere to new regulations and the added workload it may put on already busy centres.
From Monday, childcare centres which provide food will have to adhere to a new set of rules banning items such as rice crackers and dried fruit, and centres which don't provide food will be required to promote the new guidance to parents.
In December the Ministry of Health released a document titled: Reducing food-related choking for babies and young children at early learning services.
Alongside directions for a safe environment when eating and first aid, the document includes a section on "providing appropriate food".
The Ministry of Health guidelines aimed at reducing food-related choking in ECE centres lists nuts, large seeds like pumpkin and sunflower, hard or chewy lollies, marshmallows, chippies, rice crackers, dried fruit, sausages, saveloys and cheerios, and popcorn as "high risk food to exclude".
"Exclude the following foods. They have the highest risk of choking on, and are either not practical to alter, have no or minimal nutrition value, or both," the document says.
It also provides a section on how high-risk foods can be altered to lower choking risk such as cooking or grating carrots and apples.
Small round foods such as grapes and cherry tomatoes should be quartered or halved, but whole cooked green peas are "acceptable".
Nut and seed butter "can fit to the shape of a child's airway or stick to side of airway" so should be spread thinly.
Tiny Nation founding director Erin Maloney says the new regulations initially confused many, but following Ministry of Education guidance on Wednesday, said it will be "largely business as usual" for their educators.
The guidance clarified that the new rules apply to centres which provide food, and in services where parents provide food, educators should promote best practice, she said.
"We work from an education and support point of view in partnership with families so that we can empower them to make the right decisions rather than police what's coming through in lunch boxes.
"Our message to our educators has very much been 'take a commonsense approach' and it's probably no different to how most of them already operate.
"Educators and families know generally speaking what their child can manage developmentally.
"We don't want to become the nanny state in that we're policing it to that extent.
"As a mum myself I look at that list and think 'wow there's a lot of stuff on that list I would have included in a lunchbox for my child when they were preschoolers'."
She said it was important to make families aware of the risks of different foods and then working with them "because they know their children best and what they can cope with".
She feels the new regulations are "one size fits all" and makes the point that what a 2.5-year-old can cope with differs from a 4.5-year-old and by school age they need to be able to manage different foods.
"Every child is unique, every family is unique - culture plays a big part in terms of the food children and families bring to a service."
Sunny Days Napier centre manager Cathy Grigsby is supportive of the first aid and supervision components of the new regulations, something they've already been doing, but is concerned about some of the new food regulations, and said none of their parents who have spoken to her have been in support of it.
The centre currently serves lunches for their under-twos four days a week and items they previously include such as sausages, sultanas and rice crackers will be off the menu.
Parents of over-twos supply lunches but they top up food where needed and on whānau days both the centre and parents provide food.
She is also concerned about the extra work for teachers who will spend more time preparing food that children bring and educating parents, as well as the timeframe to adhere to the new regulations.
It was also an added stress for busy parents who may rely on convenience foods and lower income families who may buy some of the banned foods when they are on special, she said.