Background: A considerable body of evidence accumulated especially during the last decade, demonstrating that early nutrition and lifestyle have long-term effects on later health and disease ("developmental or metabolic programming"). Methods: Researchers involved in the European Union funded international EarlyNutrition research project consolidated the scientific evidence base and existing recommendations to formulate consensus recommendations on nutrition and lifestyle before and during pregnancy, during infancy and early childhood that take long-term health impact into account. Systematic reviews were performed on published dietary guidelines, standards and recommendations, with special attention to long-term health consequences. In addition, systematic reviews of published systematic reviews on nutritional interventions or exposures in pregnancy and in infants and young children aged up to 3 years that describe effects on subsequent overweight, obesity and body composition were performed. Experts developed consensus recommendations incorporating the wide-ranging expertise from additional 33 stakeholders. Findings: Most current recommendations for pregnant women, particularly obese women, and for young children do not take long-term health consequences of early nutrition into account, although the available evidence for relevant consequences of lifestyle, diet and growth patterns in early life on later health and disease risk is strong. Interpretation: We present updated recommendations for optimized nutrition before and during pregnancy, during lactation, infancy and toddlerhood, with special reference to later health outcomes. These recommendations are developed for affluent populations, such as women and children in Europe, and should contribute to the primary prevention of obesity and associated non-communicable diseases.