The following is the response of the Liberal Democrat Party to our questions on its infant and young child feeding policies. For the full list of responses and our letter see:

Liberal Democrat policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding

(Many thanks to Melissa Wadams for sending this response – click here to see how she got it).

Thank you for your email enquiring about the Liberal Democrats views on infant feeding. We recognise that this is an extremely important issue and we welcome the recommendations in the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, developed by the World Health Organisation with UNICEF.

Improving the health of young children has been a priority during our time in Government. As you may be aware, in February 2013 the Government signed a pledge for ‘better health outcomes for children and young people’, along with other stakeholders from across healthcare and local government.

The Department of Health works collaboratively with the National Infant Feeding Steering Group, bringing together experts in this field including Public Health England, NHS England and UNICEF UK.

In December 2013, the Department allocated £80,000 of funding for UNICEF to develop two projects to maintain and develop the National Infant Feeding Network and promote care and compassion through infant feeding as part of midwifery and health visiting services. This includes services being delivered in neonatal units and at children’s centres.

In 2013, the Department of Health also wrote to healthcare professionals – including GPs, practice nurses and health visitors – to raise awareness of best practice in the preparation of infant formula, and to restate the Department’s guidance on this, in line with guidance from the World Health Organisation.

The Liberal Democrat Manifesto sets out a commitment to review the support and advice available to parents on early child nutrition and breastfeeding.

Any review will take into account the important role of the Infant Feeding Survey and will look at how we continue to monitor trends in infant feeding, including considering whether the National Infant Feeding Survey is the best way of doing this.

We appreciate the need to monitor the ways in which children are being fed, as well as exploring issues such as the types of problems mothers may have experienced while breastfeeding, which are also covered in the survey.

From 1st October 2015, the responsibility for commissioning children’s public health services, including health visitors, will transfer from NHS England to local authorities.

The National Heath Visiting Core Service Specification 2015-16 sets out how the Health Visiting Service workforce will support young children and their families in this coming year. Among the range of outcomes which will be improved by an effective 0-5 years’ public health nursing service are improving breastfeeding initiation and increasing breastfeeding prevalence at 6-8 weeks. The specification also sets out that one of the key objectives of the health visiting service is to promote breastfeeding, healthy nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

The Department of Health has also developed six documents on ‘high impact areas’, to support local authorities in preparation for the new commissioning arrangements, and to identify areas where health visitors have the most impact on children’s health and wellbeing.

Two of these high impact areas nutrition are: Breastfeeding (initiation and duration), and Healthy weight, healthy nutrition.

Kind regards,

Humaira Khanom | Member and Supporter Services