Leader comment: New baby boxes lack vital ingredient

Nicola Sturgeon expressed her determination during the Holyrood election campaign that every child born in Scotland got 'the very best start in life'.

Information on breastfeeding will be absent from the Scottish Government's new baby boxes

What would really boost a newborn’s chances is being breastfed, and yet, as Labour has highlighted today, information and materials about it will be missing from the Scottish Government’s new baby box scheme.

The party says this is a missed opportunity, and we would agree.

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That is not to say the baby box is a bad idea - we welcome that initiative.

However, given the scientific evidence which shows the advantages of breast feeding, and the efforts that maternity wards put into encouraging new mothers to breastfeed, the baby box does seem an appropriate place to carry that message.

Of course,a printed piece of paper is no substitute for the encouragement of a nurse, midwife or health visitor - nothing like it.

It may never be read, or simply discarded. But every pointer in the right direction is welcome, even if only some mothers follow the message.

Breastfeeding can be incredibly hard for some women, and rates are as low as 15 per cent in some areas of Scotland.

Even though the boxes are to be rolled out within days, it’s never too late to make an addition to their contents.

The box, which will include clothes and nappies, is designed to provide the essentials for a new baby.

We’ve been told long enough that breastfeeding is the best start, so including further encouragement along with all the other vitals makes sense.