Nutrition, feeding and exercise

Health Visiting and School Nursing Feeding and nutrition

Information from healthy eating in pregnancy, to breast and formula feeding, complimentary feeding (weaning), and healthy eating for the whole family. The benefits of healthy diets, feeding and eating habits, and managing difficulties with these. Links to local and national supporting videos, information, advice, and support groups.

Infant formula is usually made from cow’s milk and has been treated to make it suitable for babies. There are many types of formula so always check the label before giving to your baby. However it is recommended to always use first stage milks until at least twelve months when it is recommended that your baby moves on to full fat cow’s milk. Your baby can stay on first stage milk whilst you are introducing them to solids at around six months. Vitamins are added to formula milk. If your baby is taking 500ml or more a day then additional vitamins should not be given.

Formula comes in two forms; ready-made formulas which are sterile and sold in cartons, and powered infant formula which is not sterile and must be made up and sterilised.

Skin to skin contact whilst bottle feeding, enables a special bonding experience for you and your baby. You and your partner should feed your baby to build up a close and loving bond between yourselves.

  • Make sure that you are sitting comfortably , always hold your baby close to you and look into their eyes when feeding. This helps the baby feel safe and loved.
  • Hold your baby fairly upright for feeds, with their head supported so that they can breathe and swallow comfortably.
  • Brush the teat against your babies lips, and when your baby opens their mouth wide, allow them to draw in the teat.
  • Gently insert the teat into your baby’s mouth, keeping the bottle in a horizontal position (just slightly tipped), to prevent milk from flowing too fast.
  • Allow just enough milk to cover teat and pace the feed to meet babies’ needs, gently removing it if baby appears to want a break and may need to burp.
  • If the teat becomes flattened while you are feeding, pull gently on the corner of your baby’s mouth to release the vacuum.
  • Your baby will know how much milk they need. Forcing your baby to finish a feed will be distressing, and can mean your baby is overfed.

After a while you will be able to identify when your baby is hungry. Common signs are stirring, facial movements, eyes flickering, wriggling, moving head/mouth around, rooting/sucking fingers, crying.

  • Action for Children (Children’s Centre): 01803 210200 – Vitamins available here
  • Baby Café (Infant Feeding support group): Every Friday, 10am -11.30am, Zig Zags Children’s Centre
  • Infant Feeding Support Helpline (Local): 07500952216


Knowing what to expect when breastfeeding should help you feel as confident as possible when you’ve just given birth and want to breastfeed your baby.

Your breast milk is uniquely made for your growing baby’s needs. Your breast milk can make a big difference to both you and your baby’s health. The longer you feed your baby breast milk, the more they benefit. Breast milk gives your baby all the nutrients your baby needs for around the first six months of life (and beyond). Breast milk may help protect your baby against infection, childhood illness and obesity. As a mum, breast feeding also reduces your chance of getting some illnesses later in life such as breast and ovarian cancer, and naturally uses approximately 500 calories a day. Plus, breast milk is free!

The skin to skin contact that breastfeeding naturally provides, enables a very special bonding experience for you and your baby. It will help to comfort you and your baby, helping baby to feel warm, calm and at ease. Being close to your baby also encourages your milk stimulation. Responsive feeding describes the sensitive, mutual nature of feeding when mother and baby respond to each other’s needs and cues. For example the mother can offer her breast if the baby appears unsettled or if the mother feels full and wants to sit down with her baby.

After a while you will be able to identify when your baby is hungry. Common signs are stirring, facial movements, eyes flickering, wriggling, moving head/mouth around, rooting for the breast, sucking fingers, crying.

Infant feeding support groups at Children’s Centres

  • Action for Children (Children’s Centre): 01803 210200 – Vitamins available here
  • Facebook group: NHS Breastfeeding Torbay
  • Devon Maternity Voices Partnership
  • Infant Feeding Support Helpline (Local): 07500952216
  • La Leche League Helpline: 0845 120 2918
  • National Breastfeeding Helpline: 0300 100 0212
  • Newton Abbot Hospital: 01626324651

To find a breastfeeding support group local to you, visit the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) website, or call the ABM Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 330 5453 (9.30am – 10.30pm). Volunteers are happy to talk to mums, partners, families – anyone who has a question or concern about breastfeeding.


Complimentary feeding (introducing your baby to solid foods and often called weaning) should start around six months of age (26 weeks). Before introducing solid foods your baby must show three clear developmental signs; stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady, co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth, and swallow food rather than pushing most of it back out with their tongue. There are many myths around signs of ready such as; chewing fists, watching you eat, requiring extra feeds and waking during the night. These are not necessarily signs of being ready for solids and some extra breast or first stage milk will help until they are ready for food.

Eating solid foods is a significant developmental milestone and babies enjoy exploring new flavours and textures. To begin with solid food is complimentary to baby’s milk and therefore it is less important how much they eat which can vary greatly day today, and more about getting used to the idea and enjoying eating.

Gradually you can increase solid food and introduce more varieties and textures, whilst slowly reducing baby’s milk intake.

Eating solid foods should be a pleasurable and exciting learning experience for your baby. Baby-led weaning can be messy but that is all part of the fun. Your baby can feed themselves using their own fingers, but if you are using a spoon wait for your baby to open their mouth before offering the food.

Always stay with your baby when they are eating in case they choke.

Infant feeding support groups at children’s centres.


Support videos

No rush to mush: How do you know when to start your baby on solid foods? (Short version)

Getting your baby started with solid foods

Free school meals

All children who are in key stage one (reception, year 1 and year 2) are entitled to free school meals. There is often a rolling menu which changes every term and children are asked to choose their options on a daily basis.

Some older children are also entitled to free school meals if their parents receive certain benefits. These include income support, employment and support allowance, jobseekers allowance, pension credits, child tax credit without working tax credit, or if you receive support under the immigration and asylum act. Please contact the local authority to make an application.

Healthy lunch boxes

Some children choose to have lunch boxes instead of school meals. These can help with children who may be fussy eaters. It may be helpful to contact the school as to what they expect to see in the children’s lunch boxes. There are some great ideas on the Change4Life website.

Eating disorders can affect boys or girls, men or women. They usually involve negative thoughts about body weight and food and affect eating patterns that then disrupt usual body functions and daily living.

Eating disorders can take different forms, all of which should be referred for professional support. It is also helpful for families of those with an eating disorder to know about these disorders and how to access help and support.

CAMHS webpage has more information on eating disorders.

Torbay Healthy Learning supports schools to promote physical activity, making it a part of everyday life both at school and home.

Physical activity and exercise are a really important part of every child’s development. There are national guidelines on how active our children should be:

Under 5 years

Being active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Activity of any intensity should be encouraged. Download these factsheets for further information; infants who are not walking, or infants who are capable of walking.

5 to 18 year olds

To stay healthy or to improve health, young people need to do 3 types of physical activity each week:

  • aerobic exercise
  • exercises to strengthen their bones
  • exercises to strengthen their muscles

Children in this age group should be active every day for at least 60 minutes. Download the physical activity for children and young people factsheet.

A website developed as part of a research project at Coventry University to provide tailored information and advice for mothers and their partners to help them make informed and confident decisions about infant feeding.

During pregnancy, throughout breastfeeding, and whilst raising your child, a healthy diet and lifestyle is important for you and your family. Living a healthy lifestyle and eating well will make you and your family feel better and reduce your chances of getting both short and long term health complications such as obesity, diabetes type II, heart disease and cancer. Healthy eating and exercise as a family will help demonstrate the importance of a healthy lifestyle to your child.

Torbay Healthy Learning supports schools to promote healthy eating, maintain a balanced diet and make healthy choices in school, home and the community.

The Torbay Healthy Lifestyles service can support you to lose weight; working in partnership with Slimming World, WW and Rosemary online. If you are interested in finding out more information speak to your 0-19 team or see Torbay Healthy Lifestyles for more information.


If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, the Healthy Start scheme can help you buy basic foods like milk or fruit. If you qualify for the scheme you’ll be sent vouchers you can use in over 30,000 shops in the UK. You can also get coupons to swap for free vitamins suitable for: pregnant, and breastfeeding women.


Cow’s Milk Allergy (also known as Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy or CMPA) is one of the most common food allergies to affect babies and young children in the United Kingdom. It is estimated to affect between 2 and 7.5% of babies under one.

Cow’s milk allergy is an abnormal response by the body’s immune (defence) system in which proteins in a food (in this case cow’s milk) are recognised as being harmful.

Whilst CMPA mostly affects formula fed babies, breast fed babies can also be affected too. Allergic symptoms to CMPA can happen immediately after feeding (IgE mediated) or they can be delayed (non IgE mediated).

Support videos

What is cows’ milk allergy?

Cows’ milk allery and breastfeeding

Cows’ milk allergy free weaning

Cows’ milk allergy and formula milk

Cow’s milk allergies – Guidance for health visitors and GPs

Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, and close, loving parent-infant relationships.

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