Nearly 3 in 10 babies fed 'treats' every day

21 February 2018, 14:13 | Updated: 21 February 2018, 14:15


An NHS website set up to advise on infant feeding has been visited by fewer than one in 12 new mothers, a major new survey has revealed.

Only 8% of mothers with a baby aged between eight and 12 weeks said they looked at the website - while almost eight out of 10 (77%) said they were not aware it existed.

Meanwhile 15% of mothers said they knew about the online resource, but had not looked at it.

The figures were revealed in the Scottish Government's maternal and infant nutrition survey - which some 8,000 pregnant women and mothers of babies up to one year old took part in.

It also found that nearly three out of 10 mothers (29%) of babies aged between eight and 12 months gave their infant "treats" - such as chocolate buttons, ice cream, crisps or cheese puffs - at least once a day.

In addition some parents were giving babies drinks not recommended for such young children, including 3% who were giving their babies tea.

Tap water is the only recommended alternative to breast or formula milk outside of meals for babies aged between six and 12 months.

But the survey found some parents were giving other drinks, such as sugar free or no added sugar diluting juice (12%), cows' milk (4%), tea (3%), undiluted fresh fruit juice (2%), or diluting juice with added sugar (1%).

By the time their babies were eight to 12 months old, 85% of mothers said they were eating three or more meals a day - with 74% of infants receiving at least one snack.

Meanwhile three quarters (75%) of mothers with babies aged eight to 12 weeks old reported they had fed their child breast milk "at some stage" - however the proportion of youngsters who were breastfed fell as babies grew older.

When their babies were four days old, 69% of mothers said they were giving breast milk, but by the time infants were six weeks of age, this had reduced further to 55%.

The research was carried out between March and July 2017, with more than 2,500 women taking part in each section of the survey - which looked at diet and nutrition in pregnant women, mothers with babies aged eight to 12 weeks and those with infants aged from eight months to one year.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: "This survey, the only one of its kind to be carried out anywhere in the UK since 2010, found that there has been welcome progress in encouraging breastfeeding in Scotland.

"We want to go further and continue to build on these improvements. The survey also provides insights into where we can do more, particularly in the early days and weeks after birth. It is my aim to ensure our work to increase support in this area for new mothers will continue.

"The findings of the survey will also be used to inform the development of our healthy weight strategy for Scotland, with support and interventions aimed at improving the diet and health of the nation from birth through to adulthood."