Children may be at higher risk for carriage of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria because of higher usage of antimicrobials. They also have higher rates of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections than other population groups. Some infections, particularly in children, are asymptomatic, but still lead to the excretion of large numbers of bacteria and viruses that may cause clinical disease in other individuals. That is one reason why, in Lower Saxony as in other German federal states – asymptomatic carriers of STEC are excluded from nurseries and schools until three consecutive stool samples test negative in order to prevent secondary cases. The prevalence of children who are asymptomatic STEC carriers is unknown. But if it is high, this measure would have substantial socioeconomic effects on families. Infections with extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-E) are an increasing problem for public health, especially for hospitals. However, there are no reliable estimates of the prevalence of asymptomatic ESBL-E carriers in Lower Saxony, as there is no mandatory requirement to report these carriers. In order to discuss the exclusion policies for children attending nurseries and ascertain a baseline of ESBL-E carriers, we conducted a cross-sectional study. The aim was to determine the prevalence of ESBL-E and STEC and identify risk factors for carriage in nursery children without diarrhoea (asymptomatic) aged 0–6 years in four selected districts in Northern Germany. During April–September 2014, we collected stool specimens with the support of voluntarily participating nurseries. We tested for STEC by PCR and for ESBL-E on chromogenic agar. Questionnaires answered by parents contained data on eating and drinking habits, outdoor activities, prior antibiotic treatment and animal contact for each participating child. We compared the epidemiological characteristics of ESBL-E carriers vs. non-carriers by using univariable analysis (P value, odds ratio and 95% confidence interval). We could not perform a statistical analysis for STEC carriers due to the low numbers of positive STEC specimens. Of 224 asymptomatic nursery children, we found a prevalence of 2·3% for ESBL-E carriage and 0·5% for STEC carriage. Asymptomatic ESBL-E carriers were more likely to have consumed raw milk, have had contact with pet rodents, or to have taken antibiotics during the preceding 6 months. We also found a high proportion of raw milk consumption (11%). We suggest that the low STEC prevalence in asymptomatic children supports the current practice of excluding STEC carriers from nurseries. The association between ESBL-E carriage and raw milk consumption and contact with pet rodents needs further investigation.