AN APP inspired by mums from Coventry and Warwickshire will provide information to support breastfeeding and bottle feeding parents.
The app, iFeed, has been created by Coventry University and launched today (Wednesday, August 1).
The university hopes the app will fill a gap in the help offered to parents due to children’s centre closures and over-stretched maternity and health visiting services.
It says the app aims to ensure mums and dads who bottle feed receive more support as it becomes a cultural norm.
The team behind the project, from the university’s Centre for Advances in Behavioural Science, included questionnaires and focus groups involving mums and dads in Coventry and Warwickshire.
They also interviewed health professionals and undertook comprehensive reviews of other infant feeding and child health websites.
The website is designed to promote breastfeeding without excluding those who do not wish to or cannot breastfeed.
Dr Naomi Bartle, who is leading the iFeed project, has 10 years of experience in infant feeding research and is the mother of a three-year-old girl who was both breast and bottle fed.
She said: “Feeding a baby is an emotional experience. Sometimes it feels like midwives, health visitors, family and friends are balancing on a tightrope trying to decide what information and support to give new parents.
“We know there are many benefits to breastfeeding and the site primarily aims to encourage it.
“But bottle feeding is still the norm in the UK and we have to recognise that in the support we offer parents.
“Otherwise we risk alienating those parents and missing opportunities to discuss infant feeding with them.
“With overstretched maternity and health visiting services and closures of children’s centres limiting the support that can be offered in this way, we believe this website will be useful to parents.”
Developers say it will feature advice and information for people making up bottles of formula or giving expressed milk to their child, as well as content to help mothers breastfeed.
It also addresses some of the main barriers women come across, such as breastfeeding in public.
There is a strong focus on parent-child bonding and how skin-to-skin contact can help with this.
Developers say they compiled research with the input of psychologists.
The researchers found parents wanted more information about bottle feeding and more content directed to fathers and partners.
Experts recommend that, when possible, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life.
Today (August 1) marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week.
The university says the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, with just 34 per cent of babies still receiving breast milk aged six months, according to a report published earlier this year.
The website is available at www.ifeedproject.co.uk.