Systematic development of an online intervention to support infant feeding (iFeed)

Naomi Bartle, Katherine Brown, Kajal Gokal, Susan Law, Louise Moody, Jeremy Dale

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Mothers report stopping breastfeeding earlier than intended due to difficulties that could be prevented or resolved with skilled support. Parents report looking online for information and/or social support regarding infant feeding, but find it difficult to determine what is reliable, usable and evidence-based. For those who do not wish, or are unable to breastfeed the usual alternative is to offer formula milk by bottle. Parents report difficulties accessing timely and appropriate guidance about bottle feeding which may contribute to unsafe practices. Furthermore, parents choosing to formula feed may miss messages that encourage a responsive style of feeding and promote parent-infant bonding.

The aim of this research was to develop an inclusive, online intervention to encourage skin-to-skin contact and responsive feeding, encourage and support confident breastfeeding, and enable safe bottle feeding when required.

The needs analysis comprised of a systematic review of digital interventions for infant feeding, content analysis of existing digital interventions (apps and websites), and a review of national guidelines for infant feeding support in order to list the required topic areas for a comprehensive intervention. Institutional ethical approval was confirmed before the project start. The target areas of breastfeeding and safe bottle feeding were broken down into specific behaviours and performance objectives for both mothers and their partners. For the specified behaviours the Behaviour-Change Wheel approach was applied (Michie et al. 2014). Barriers and facilitators were identified from the qualitative literature and from consultation with parents (n=22), and these were categorised using the COM-B model (e.g. reflective motivation, physical opportunity etc), before identifying theoretical domains and intervention functions. We considered all relevant BCTs for each category in terms of their relevance for addressing the barriers and facilitators and the feasibility of delivering them via an online platform. A team of experts in behaviour change, infant feeding, and midwifery discussed the selected BCTs and developed suggestions of how to implement these in the intervention. Health professionals and parents were encouraged to comment on these ideas or offer alternatives via an online forum.

The final intervention will comprise of information tailored to expectant parents, parents of infants under 1 year, and those who want to support others (i.e. grandparents/ partners). For expectant parents the content will focus on increasing both reflective and automatic motivation for breastfeeding, increasing perceptions of capability and suggest ways for parents to increase the physical and social opportunities for breastfeeding. For those who do not wish to breastfeed the content focuses on increasing skin to skin contact and responsive (baby-led) bottle feeding style. For those with infants under 1 year the intervention will link to previously developed intervention for supporting sustained breastfeeding (B Skills app) and will give information about safe and responsive bottle feeding.

There is a need for a comprehensive online intervention to support both breastfeeding and safe and responsive bottle feeding. The intervention software is currently in development and will be tested with parents and health professionals for acceptability before evaluation in a future trial.


ConferenceUCL Centre for Behaviour Change Digital Health Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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