INFANT (INfant Feeding Active play and NuTrition)
|CfC FP Objective||Healthy Young Families |
Supporting Families and Parents
|Delivered to||Parents and carers of infants (0 to 18 Months)|
|Delivered by||Trained early years practitioners including Maternal and Child Health Nurses, Dietitians, Health Promotion Officers, Parent Support Workers.|
|Program developer||Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University|
About the program
The INFANT program aims to improve parents’ and carers’ knowledge and skills around healthy eating, active play, limiting screen time and, in turn, healthy growth from the start of life.
INFANT includes 4 x 90-minute group sessions intended for parents and carers of infants aged approximately 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The group sessions are complemented with an app called My Baby Now for parents and carers to support key messages.
Staff at Local Government Areas implementing INFANT will have completed the online INFANT training. The training has been created for early years practitioners interested in implementing INFANT in their community.
The training offers 6 to 8 hours of continued professional development (CPD). In addition, training participants must undertake the online refresher training for 1.5 hours every 2 years to continue to deliver INFANT in their area.
Organisations will receive implementation guidance to support them in embedding INFANT into routine service delivery.
INFANT runs on a cost-recovery basis only which ensures training and support will remain low-cost to organisations implementing the program. In Victoria, there are no direct costs to government and not-for-profit organisations due to funding from the Victorian Department of Health. This includes private practitioners working in partnership with health and community services. For interstate and private practitioners (not working in partnership with health and community services) there is a fee involved.
Evaluation and effectiveness
INFANT is based on more than 10 years of research undertaken by the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University. In 2008, INFANT was delivered as a research trial to 540 families across eleven Victorian Local Government Areas. This randomised controlled trial showed that INFANT had positive effects on a range of parents’ and children’s health behaviours with sustained benefits at 5 years of age:
- At 18 months – Children watched less television, consumed fewer sweet snacks and had improved dietary quality. Children of younger/less educated mothers drank more water and ate more vegetables.
- At 3.5 and 5 years – Children consumed more fruit and vegetables and more water at 3.5 years of age and less sugar-sweetened beverages at 5 years. At both ages children consumed less sweet snacks and viewed less TV (approaching significance).
INFANT was also shown to improve mothers’ knowledge and confidence in feeding their children as well as their own diet, with high levels of engagement with the program (68% attended most sessions).
Early, small-scale translation of INFANT (2012-2019) provided proof of concept of the feasibility of implementing the program in routine practice, and insights for future community translation.
The implementation and effectiveness of INFANT at-scale throughout Victoria and nationally (from 2021) is being evaluated with the support of a Partnership Project Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (GNT1161223; 2019-2024). The Victorian Government also provided additional funding to IPAN at Deakin University to enhance implementation of INFANT across Victoria in 2020-2021. IPAN gratefully acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.
Campbell, K.J., Lioret, S., McNaughton, S.A., Crawford, D.A., Salmon, J., Ball, K., McCallum, Z., Gerner, B.E., Spence, A.C., Cameron, A.J., Hnatiuk, J.A., Ukoumunne, O.C., Gold, L., Abbott, G., & Hesketh, K.D. (2013). A parent-focused intervention to reduce infant obesity risk behaviors: A randomized trial. Pediatrics, 131(4), 652-60.
Hesketh, K.D., Salmon, J., McNaughton, S.A., Crawford, D., Abbott, G., Cameron, A.J., Lioret, S., Gold, L., Downing, K.L., & Campbell, K.J. (2020). Long-term outcomes (2 and 3.5 years post-intervention) of the INFANT early childhood intervention to improve health behaviors and reduce obesity: Cluster randomised controlled trial follow-up. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(1), 95.
Laws, R., Hesketh, K.D., Ball, K., Cooper, C., Vrljic, K., & Campbell, K.J. (2016). Translating an early childhood obesity prevention program for local community implementation: A case study of the Melbourne InFANT Program. BMC Public Health,16, 1-15.
Love, P., Laws, R., Hesketh, K.D., & Campbell, K.J. (2019). Lessons on early childhood obesity prevention interventions from the Victorian Infant Program. Public Health Research and Practice, 29(1), e2911904.