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New drive to improve child health

A new government campaign to improve child health  - Start4life - is to be unveiled by Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

The campaign centres on giving help and guidance to new parents, so their child can enjoy a healthy start right from birth.

Simple guidelines include straightforward advice such as "don't rush to mush" - meaning new mothers and fathers should not be in hurry to give their youngsters solid food too early.

Parents will also be advised to encourage their babies to 'toddle' as soon as they can and to avoid sugary snacks in a drive to cut obesity.

A "banana challenge" will help mothers decide when it is appropriate for their child to move on to solids, typically not before the baby is six months old.

Mr Burnham will unveil the plan to health workers at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) conference in Manchester but the official launch to parents will not be until January.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Department of Health - Start4Life