First Steps Nutrition Trust: Celebrating 10 years providing independent, evidence-based information on nutrition and eating well from pre-conception to age five to support the work of UK health care professionals
First Steps Nutrition Trust is a UK-focused, independent public health nutrition charity predominantly working in the early years. We’re 10 years old this year, and have spent the last decade working to influence policy and practice to better protect and promote good nutrition from pre-conception to five years. We do this by seeking to fill practical and policy-relevant information gaps, supporting other organisations who share our objectives and providing resources for health workers supporting eating well in the early years, including midwives.
You can read more about us on our website here: First Steps Nutrition Trust.
In order to maintain our independence we do not work with organisations or individuals that work with, or take funding from the breastmilk substitute industry, and we avoid commercial funding. This also means we can support the work of Unicef-UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative, helping health care settings, including maternity and neonatal units, to comply with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. You can read Unicef UK’s guide for health workers on how to work with ‘the Code’ here.
Helping you to support pregnant women and new mums to eat well
A part of our core activities involves maintaining our suite of practical, photographic ‘Eating Well’ guides, ensuring they are up to date and relevant and summarise key aspects of UK policy. Those most pertinent for midwives include ‘Eating well for a healthy pregnancy: A practical guide’ and our companion resource tailored for those working with the youngest mums-to-be ‘Eating well in pregnancy: A practical guide to support teenagers’; both can be found on our website here. We also have a guide on ‘Eating well for new mums: including information for breastfeeding mothers’ and a simple guide to breastmilk and breastfeeding which is written for parents; these can be found on our website here. For those of you faced with food and diet-related questions from vegan families we have this specific guide on the same page: ‘Eating well: vegan infants and under-5s’.
Helping you to answer parents questions on infant milks and formula feeding
Another key component of our work which is intended to support midwives and other health care professionals in their work with expectant parents and the youngest families, centres around providing independent information on infant milks. We endeavour to provide a ‘one stop shop’ to ensure health care professionals have all the information they may need on infant milks marketed in the UK to support families using these products to feed their infants, without having to negotiate their way through marketing information from the companies who produce them.
The content on our First Steps Nutrition Trust website, here, covers composition, marketing claims and the usefulness and safety of ingredients, as well as information to support making up powdered infant formula safely. To accompany this we have a dedicated website at INFANT MILK INFORMATION | Types of infant milks on the UK market where we provide up to date details about individual formula products for use in the first year of life, including their composition and ingredients, suitability for infants with dietary requirements, how much they cost, and commentary on any associated claims. You can also find FAQs on infant milk used in the first year on this website, alongside relevant regulatory information.
Related to our work on infant milks, First Steps Nutrition Trust has been secretariat of the “Baby Feeding Law Group UK’‘ since 2018. The Baby Feeding Law Group UK comprises 30 organisational members including the Royal College of Midwives. We have been working for over 20 years to call for UK laws to reflect ‘the Code’ and put an end to marketing practices which commercialise infant feeding, mislead consumers and threaten breastfeeding. As a group, we want to see parents better enabled to make informed decisions about how they feed their babies, including where necessary, their formula choice and use.
All of First Steps Nutrition Trust’s resources are designed for use by UK health care professionals, so if you have any questions or suggestions about them we would love to hear them; please email email@example.com.
Keeping you up to date
We produce a monthly newsletter in which we share our latest work and provide updates of key happenings in the UK public health nutrition sector which are relevant to those working with new and expectant families. You can sign up to receive this on our news page News and Publications — First Steps Nutrition Trust
To find out more about what First Steps Nutrition Trust has done over the last 10 years and what we hope to do in the future, you can read our summary report here.
Dr Victoria Sibson
First Steps Nutrition Trust