Addressing the nutritional needs of young children

Health professionals and early years practitioners should refer to the Scottish Perspectives on NICE Public Health Guidance 11 specifically around the following recommendations:.

Recommendation 1: Training

Professional bodies should ensure health professionals have the appropriate knowledge and skills to give advice on the following:

  • The nutritional needs of women and the importance of a balanced diet before, during and after pregnancy (including the need for suitable folic acid supplements)
  • The rationale for recommending certain dietary supplements (for example, vitamin D) to pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • The nutritional needs of infants and young children
  • Breastfeeding management, using the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) training as a minimum standard
  • Strategies for changing people’s eating behaviour, particularly by offering practical, food-based advice.

Recommendation 16: Child health promotion

  • Commissioners and managers should work with local partners to ensure mothers can feed their babies in public areas without fear of interruption or criticism
  • Health visitors should assess the needs of all mothers, parents and carers with young children. They should provide relevant, early and ongoing support at home for those with the greatest needs, including any that may be the result of a physical or learning disability or communication difficulties.
  • Health visitors should support mothers to continue breastfeeding for as long as they choose
  • Provide mothers and other family members with support to introduce a variety of nutritious foods (in addition to milk) to ensure the child is offered a progressively varied diet from six months
  • Encourage and support parents and carers to make home-prepared foods for infants and young children, without adding salt, sugar or honey
  • Encourage families to eat together and encourage parents and carers to set a good example by the food choices they make for themselves
  • Advise parents and carers not to leave infants alone when they are eating or drinking

Recommendation 22: Family nutrition

  • Public health nutritionists and dietitians should offer parents in receipt of Healthy Start benefit practical support and advice on how to use the Healthy Start vouchers to increase their intake of fruit and vegetables.
  • Provide support (both practical and financial) to develop and maintain community-based initiatives which aim to make a balanced diet more accessible to people on a low income. Examples include food cooperatives, ‘cook and eat’ clubs, ‘weaning parties’ and ‘baby cafes.’
  • Work with local retailers to improve the way fresh fruit and vegetables are displayed and promoted.

A slide set on these recommendations is available from NHS Health Scotland.

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