Healthy baby infant feeding policy – Manchester

Very young children in Manchester were found to have high levels of tooth decay. Prolonged bottle feeding, often with sugared drinks, was of particular concern in this area.

This led to the widespread support to revise the infant feeding policy. A broad stakeholder group comprising health visitors, paediatricians, speech and language therapists and oral health improvement practitioners agreed to changes to this policy.

Following this there was wide support for a programme to encourage parents to discard feeding bottles at the appropriate developmental stage. This programme aimed to tackle the culturally embedded custom of prolonged bottlefeeding particularly at night, by encouraging parents to stop using a baby feeding bottle by the time their child was 12 months old. Parents were also encouraged to change to water or milk as the drink of choice.

The programme was evaluated and showed that parents who had received trainer cups and proactive messages from healthcare workers in the test areas had better knowledge about bottle feeding and better reported home care habits changing from bottles to cups.