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Welcome to our October newsletter

In this newsletter we highlight a new ASA ruling against Nestlé and Asda for the inappropriate promotion of SMA toddler milk and new marketing of soya protein based formula as the ‘vegetarian’ choice (see our infant milk news section for details).

We also have a new report out looking at what parents discuss on parental talk boards about formula milk, a new simple guide to infant formula to download and details of a simple guide to breast milk and breastfeeding which will be available in the next few weeks.

We are also pleased to announce the launch of a new venture – the Healthy Start Alliance – an external advocacy and information group to support Healthy Start and the important concept that good nutrition is essential for vulnerable pregnant women and young children.

'I just want to find the right formula for my baby'

I just want to find the right formula for my baby

This report is now available as a free pdf and considers some of the current questions and thoughts that formula feeding parents are sharing on parental talk boards.

Since the first review of this kind 5 years ago ‘I hear it’s the closest to breast milk’ there appears to be greater concern amongst parents over babies with special medical needs that might be solved by a ‘specialist’ formula, and the rise in these concerns appears to mirror the rise in these formula available over the counter.

We are using some of the findings from this work to help us update our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ around infant feeding for health professionals and to inform how we can support families with clear consistent information on infant milks.

We would like to thank Jessica Mitchell for collecting and analysing the data for this report, and will be using some of the conversational threads in other work later this year.

Infant Milks: A simple guide to infant formula, follow-on formula and other infant milks

I just want to find the right formula for my baby

This simple guide, now available to download, aims to answer questions about different types of infant milks and current infant feeding recommendations.

It includes a summary of types of milk suitable by age, explains why these decisions are current policy and provides simple information on bottle feeding and making up milks safely.

We hope this will be useful for work with families, and the evidence base for this work can be found in our report ‘Infant milks in the UK: A guide for health professionals.’

Breastmilk and breastfeeding: A simple guide

We have also produced a simple guide on breastmilk and breastfeeding that will be available to download from this website in the next few weeks.

This report simply outlines why breastmilk and breastfeeding are important for individual, and public, health, as well as for the environment, and provides some simple information and signposting on how women can be supported.

We are fortunate in the UK to have many excellent breastfeeding support organisations who offer wide ranging resources as well as tailored support and it is important that anyone supporting women around infant feeding knows how to signpost to appropriate helplines, websites or apps.

Breastmilk and breastfeeding: A simple guide

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Infant Milk News

ASA Ruling against ASDA and Nestlé

Baby Buddy Phone App

Baby Milk Action ( have won another ruling against misleading baby milk marketing in the UK. A ruling published by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on 15th October upholds Baby Milk Action complaints about a joint Nestlé and ASDA email promotion for SMA toddler milks.

The companies have been warned not to repeat misleading claims that implied children would miss out on ‘important nutrients’, such as iron and Vitamin D, if they did not buy SMA toddler milk. As we have reported previously, it has been clearly stated by The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) that young child formula are not needed in the diet.

There are currently discussions in the EC on whether these milks for older children should be regulated separately, or brought in line with other infant formula standards. It is important to remember that whilst these processed milks have some nutrients added in very high amounts (which may in itself be a risk to health), they actually have lower amounts of some important nutrients such as riboflavin, calcium, iodine, magnesium, potassium  and phosphorus  than whole cows’ milk.

If you see any advertising for infant milks that you think is misleading, find out how to report it at:

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Cow & Gate markets Infasoy as the ‘vegetarian’ option

Cow & Gate (owned by Danone) are currently marketing their soya protein based infant formula ‘Infasoy’ as the vegetarian choice of specialist formula.

Baby Buddy Phone App

Cow&Gate products

Despite clearly stating this milk is suitable for vegetarians, further down the information page on Infasoy they state:

Cow & Gate Infasoy

Cow & Gate Infasoy is suitable for babies with lactose intolerance, cows' milk protein allergy, galactosaemia and galactokinase deficiency when a vegetarian diet is required or when other formulas for cows' milk protein allergy are not accepted. Cow & Gate Infasoy is not advised as the first choice in these conditions, particularly under 6 months of age. It should always be used under medical supervision.

They are absolutely right: current UK policy does not recommend the use of soya protein based infant formula in any of these circumstances unless all risks have been considered and they are recommended by a medical practitioner. To market this milk as ‘vegetarian’ may be compositionally correct, but advice on the careful use of soya protein based formula is clear, and the reasons for this are summarised on NHS Choices:

Soya and phytoestrogens

Some people are concerned that giving babies soya-based infant formula could affect the development of their reproductive organs. This is because soya contains phytoestrogens, compounds that are found naturally in some plants.

As their name suggests, the chemical structure of phytoestrogens is similar to the female sex hormone oestrogen. It’s likely that they could affect babies’ reproductive development. This is of particular concern in babies who drink only soya-based infant formula. Babies’ lower body weight means that they take in much higher amounts of phytoestrogens than adults and older children who eat soya products as part of a mixed diet.

Soya-based infant formula and babies’ teeth

Soya-based infant formula contains glucose, a type of sugar. Glucose is more harmful to babies’ and small children’s teeth than the lactose in infant formula made with cows' milk.
Any food or drink containing sugars should not have contact with your baby’s teeth too often or for too long. Use a trainer cup for your baby’s drinks as soon as they can drink this way

We don’t believe that Cow & Gate should market this milk as a ‘vegetarian’ option from birth since this is not current UK health policy. The only milk currently available suitable for use from birth for vegetarians is NANNYcare goats’ milk formula. Other first cows’ milk protein based formula use fish oils or rennet in production. There are no first infant milks suitable for vegans since they all contain Vitamin D sourced from sheep’s wool lanolin.

We summarise which milks are suitable for vegetarian and halal consumers in our report Infant milks in the UK.  We will contact all manufacturers of first infant milks to ask whether a first milk based on cows’ milk protein could be produced, and to suggest that marketing of soya based infant formula for vegetarians is not in line with current health policy.

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First Steps Nutrition Trust will be manning stand 34 at the CPHVA Annual Conference at the NEC Birmingham on November 5th and 6th 2014. If you will be there come and see us – we hope to fly the flag for independent, expert resources (even if we will be surrounded by big commercial organisations on much bigger stands!). We will be running the stand in conjunction with Weight Concern who produce the Tiny Tastes resource.

If you know of an event which might be suitable for us to attend do get in touch at


Eating well for new mums
Our report ‘Eating well for new mums: Including information for breastfeeding mothers’ is finally reaching the end of its (longer than planned) gestation and will be available in November 2014.
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Healthy Start Alliance UK

First Steps Nutrition Trust are working with Food Matters to set up this new alliance to act as an independent advocacy group to support Healthy Start, the UK wide welfare food scheme.

Food Matters ( is a not-for-profit national food policy and advocacy organisation working to create sustainable and fair food systems, who believe changing our food system requires action both from the bottom up and top down, from both communities and national government.

Food Matters have recently worked on a project supporting families eligible for Healthy Start in two London Boroughs, offering additional fruit and vegetable vouchers to use in local markets and providing a model for potentially using Healthy Start to make longer term changes in eating behaviour amongst lower income families.


The Healthy Start Alliance is in its infancy, but we will be asking organisations and individuals who support good nutrition in pregnancy and the early years, or who support and advocate for families living on low incomes, to join the alliance over the next few weeks.

We hope to offer information, resources and weight to the importance of maintaining and growing an effective welfare food scheme. If you are interested in joining the alliance or finding out more about it, contact

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First Steps Nutrition Trust offers information and resources to support good nutrition from pre-conception to 5 years.
Our aim is to produce clear and independent resources to support people who want to know more about eating well before and during pregnancy, eating well for infants and young children, and food composition and food quality.

First Steps Nutrition Trust takes no industry funding. We are funded through charitable trusts and donations. We aim to provide a one-stop shop for useful and accurate evidence-based information on good nutrition from pre-conception to five years.
First Steps mother and baby
First Step Nutrition Trust's newsletter will be published regularly to promote information and awareness of the importance of good nutrition from pre-conception to 5 years and to highlight the work of the Trust.
Registered Charity No: 114640