Review and update of the maternal (pregnant and breastfeeding women), infant and toddler guidelines.

This project was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and the University of Auckland and led by Moana Research (2019).

Project background

This project provided the qualitative consultation component of a wider review of the Ministry of Health Maternal (Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women), Infant and Toddler Dietary Guidelines. The aim of the consultation was to test the interpretation and acceptability of draft dietary statements/recommendations for the general public. Evidence from recent international reviews and New Zealand studies contributed to the preliminary draft statements, which were then prepared for consumer feedback.


Five focus groups were facilitated between June and July 2019 across Auckland. Mothers (including pregnant women), fathers, grandparents, caregivers, and early childhood teachers of children 3 years and under were invited to attend. A total of 53 participants attended focus groups in Ranui, Otara, Te Atatu, Mangere and Highland Park.

During each focus group, six key statements relating to the Maternal (Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women) Dietary Guidelines, and six key statements relating to the Infant and Toddler Dietary Guidelines were presented to participants. Each statement was discussed and reviewed individually, with participants offering culturally contextualised examples and suggestions for further clarification. Thematic analysis of focus group transcripts resulted in recommendations to inform the final statements and future resources.

Benefits for families and communities

The recommendations provided throughout the maternal (pregnant and breastfeeding women), infants and toddlers statements, provided guidance on how the updated Ministry of Health dietary guidelines should be shaped for families and whānau.

This was important as much of the information provided in the statements were new for parents, and many felt there was inconsistent messaging about nutrition from pregnancy through to toddler-age. Parents and caregivers believed information received from health professionals, friends, and family members on important topics such as pregnancy weight, breastfeeding, and introducing solids became confusing among a plethora of available information.

There was acknowledgment that a holistic and collective approach was required when providing knowledge to ensure accuracy of messages, and the need to connect health promotion messages to individuals’ socio-cultural contexts and backgrounds.
Findings of this project were also presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand


Gerritsen S, Mackay S, Ikihele A, Taufa S, Fa’alili-Fidow J, McIntyre L. Review and Update of the Maternal (Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women), Infant and Toddler Dietary Guidelines. Proceedings. 2019; 37(1):45.