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

SDLP policy on infant and young child feeding

Re: Policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding

Thank you for your letter of the 1st February about the SDLPs position on Infant and Young Child Feeding.

As a social justice party the SDLP have consistently called for excellent and efficient healthcare for people of all ages and as such we support provisions which seek to enhance the life quality of any young child in Northern Ireland. We recognise that in order for future generations to get the best start parents and more specifically mothers should be properly supported through access to relevant, accurate and independent information in regards raising their child.

The SDLP note that breast milk is the only natural food designed for babies that can help them fight infections and diseases while also helping to lower the chance of infant diarrhoea or vomiting. As a healthy and practical alternative to formula the SDLP would support measures which would encourage the rise in breastfeeding, help reduce public stigma of breastfeeding and raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding.

1. Will your party fully implement the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in the UK?

The SDLP have reviewed the global strategy and we have identified several positive aspects of it. We recognise that even as a developed country the children of the Northern Ireland may still be at risk of poor feeding and its consequences. As such the SDLP would support all legislation which seeks to protect and improve the lives of infants and young children within Northern Ireland and within the United Kingdom at large. The SDLPs MPs and MLAs will engage constructively with the introduction of any strategy at regional or national parliamentary levels.

2. Will your party reinstate the National Infant Feeding Survey?

The SDLP would support the reintroduction of the National Infant Feeding Survey as part of a larger strategy aiming to provide relevant and accurate information for mothers and society at large. A National Infant Feeding Survey would provide a system to help monitor feeding practices, assess trends and hopefully help detail the impact of interventions.

Best regards,

Fearghal McKinney MLA