BSNA welcomes publication of new Government early years report: The Best Start in Life: A vision for the 1,001 Critical Days

The first 1,001 days of life are the most pivotal point for the development of a child. The multifaceted nature of the risks to children in this early period requires a holistic response, both nationally and locally. As such the recommendations of the Government’s Early Years Development Review are a vital step to ensuring a comprehensive approach to early years support.

Receiving the right nutrition at the very start of life, and the subsequent early years, is a key factor in supporting positive outcomes. BSNA members recognise breastfeeding is the best way to feed an infant and is important for both mother and baby’s health and well-being.

However, when a mother cannot, or chooses not to breastfeed, bottle feeding with a scientifically developed formula milk is the only suitable and safe alternative to breastmilk. BSNA strongly welcomes the recognition within the report that parents should be respected and supported in their decision on how to feed their baby and that infant feeding support should include advice and support for all forms of feeding.

Recent BSNA research with mothers, midwives and health visitors[1] identified clear gaps and unaddressed information needs that have both practical and emotional consequences for parents. 20% of HCPs surveyed feel mothers are not receiving sufficient advice and support to ensure they are able to make informed decisions on how to feed their infant and over half of mothers in the survey would like more information on formula feeding.

[1] Parent and Baby Friendly: Enabling Informed Decision Making and Respecting Parent Choices in Infant Feeding. BSNA, February 2021 - download