Infant food insecurity - responding and preventing: guide

Following discussions in June 2023, we committed to forming a short life working group to develop emergency integrated pathways for families in Scotland with an infant that may face food insecurity and what is available locally to them in an emergency. This toolkit forms a guide for local areas.

Who is this Toolkit for?

These tools and resources are designed to be used by welfare rights teams, health visiting and family nurse partnership teams, midwifery, GP’s, public health, social work, third sector and voluntary sector and anyone else working with families with young children and pregnant women. These should be used to develop and enhance existing pathways of support for families experiencing poverty and food insecurity, and for families with an infant in immediate need. This content could also be shared more widely, including with families themselves.

What can health visitors, family nurses or other health professionals do?

You could access training resources to help ask sensitive questions on household income and food security with families and how to take a cash first approach to providing support.

You could provide a cash first response (or cash equivalent such as shopping vouchers).

You could provide routes into wider support and advice (eg. access to fuel cards to ensure safe formula preparation and storage).

In an emergency, for formula fed babies, you could purchase infant formula (powdered or ready-to-feed) where essential to enable safe, responsive feeding.

This does not impact your Unicef Baby Friendly status or breach the WHO Code.[10]

You could provide a route into wider, holistic support pathways such as income maximisation or mental health support and refer to food banks when essential.

You could provide or refer families to support on appropriate, safe and responsive infant feeding, which may include qualified support on breastfeeding or formula feeding.

You could ensure families requiring infant formula are informed that all first infant formulas are nutritionally equivalent, and that only first infant formula is needed for the first year.

What can food banks/baby banks or other voluntary/third sector partners do?

Firstly, you could connect to your local crisis response pathways, co-ordinated through local leads in the NHS or Local Authority.

You could seek advice from local health professionals on routes to support appropriate, safe and responsive infant feeding, which may include support on breastfeeding or formula feeding and help to direct families to health professionals for this advice and wider support.

You might provide a cash payment for the purchase of infant formula, or a cash equivalent (shopping voucher or gift card) or purchase the appropriate infant formula.

What can local authorities and HSCP’s do?

You could provide a cash first response (or cash equivalent such as shopping vouchers).

You could provide infant formula where there is a genuine need, provided this has been purchased, to meet families’ needs during a time of crisis.

You could provide, or refer families to, income maximisation/ welfare rights support and other services in line with families’ needs.

You could seek advice on maternal and infant nutrition through your health partnerships to inform local responses, including to embed breastfeeding support.

You could raise awareness across your organisation of the unique nutritional needs of babies and infants under 12 months in any crisis responses that are in place.



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