Welcome to stage one of the SMA® Nutrition 5-Stage Plan to developing a successful infant feeding service in your pharmacy
More than three-quarters of a million babies are born every year in the UK. And with every new life starts a new journey. The SMA Nutrition 5-Stage Plan will help you to provide an important infant feeding service that development supports parents on their journey. Future modules will look at everything from category management to staff training, but first, here are some essential facts and figures.
The baby category is a buoyant one. In total it is valued at more than £1,406 million. Within that, the baby milks category is currently valued at £396 million, and is growing at 5.2% a year.But while some community pharmacists believe that they have lost their share of this market to grocery for ever, others disagree. Community pharmacist and RPS English Pharmacy Board member Sid Dajani believes: “There is a lot that can be done by pharmacy teams to win infant feeding sales back by raising awareness of pharmacy as a great source of advice.”
Looking at research data, it is obvious that there is a real need for this advice. In one survey, which asked 1,000 new mums what their biggest challenge was in the first year of motherhood, almost one in 10 said ‘feeding patterns or problems’.
Shopper behaviour is also indicative of the mums’ need to source information: 45% of first- time mums ‘rehearsal shop’ in the antenatal period. In other words, they spend a long time browsing the baby fixture to see what is available, and products they may need, and just under 50% of those mums do that browsing in a pharmacy or specialist health and beauty retailer.
With little or no advice available in grocery stores to help support new mums, it seems obvious that pharmacy should be where they turn to instead.
- Breast milk is universally acknowledged as the best nutrition for babies. It provides optimum nutrition for growing infants, and it helps to protect against illness. Breastfeeding also has many non-nutritional benefits for both mums and babies, such as helping to encourage bonding. These are among the reasons why the Department of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 26 weeks of a baby’s life.
- Breastfeeding rates are rising slightly. For example, in England most mums (73.9%) now breastfeed their babies from birth. Combination feeding (formula feeding and breast milk) is on the rise, with 42% of first time mums using this as their current feeding habit. This trend is likely to continue. Despite these increases, more than 54% of infants are exclusively bottle-fed by six to eight weeks in England.
All members of the pharmacy team can offer general advice to customers on the benefits of breastfeeding and the infant feeding journey. However, by law, only qualified healthcare professionals are allowed to offer specific advice on baby milks. So, if a customer asks which formula milk they should use, they must be referred to a pharmacy technician or pharmacist.