Updated food and nutrition guidelines for babies

  • Steve Chadwick

The revised food and nutrition guidelines for infants and toddlers are aimed at giving New Zealand babies the best possible start in life, Associate Health Minister Steve Chadwick said today.

The Minister today released the fourth edition of the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Infants and Toddlers (Aged 0-2) A Background Paper, following extensive public consultation last year.

“The most significant change to the latest guidelines involve the recommended duration of breastfeeding and the introduction of complementary foods,” Steve Chadwick said.

The guidelines are a handbook for health practitioners, to provide advice to parents and caregivers about the nutrition and eating habits of their infants and toddlers. They support other government initiatives to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and healthy nutrition for infants and toddlers.

“We know that breastfeeding is important for babies’ growth, development, and health, so we now recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed to around six months of age, and continue to be breastfed until at least 12 months or beyond.

“We also recommend solids are introduced when infants are developmentally ready, usually around six months of age, instead of between four and six months as previously suggested.

"Breastfeeding rates at birth are generally quite high in New Zealand, but the rates tend to decline rapidly as babies get older.

“This government has made improving breastfeeding rates a priority, with the introduction of paid parental leave, the Breaks and Infant Feeding Bill, the Flexible Working Arrangements Act, and the breastfeeding action plan.

“There is also a national breastfeeding promotion campaign running, which aims to strengthen support for breastfeeding mothers, and promote supportive environments for breastfeeding.”

A copy of the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Infants and Toddlers (Aged 0-2) A Background Paper and more information is available at: www.moh.govt.nz/publications