History of INFANT
INFANT is based on more than 10 years of research led by the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University. In 2008, INFANT was delivered as a randomised research trial with 540 families across 14 Victorian local government areas.
2007: Development of INFANT
The INFANT Program was developed and reviewed by experts including Maternal and Child Health Nurses, dietitians and health behaviour specialists.
The program was developed to promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviours that would, in turn, promote healthy weight across life. The first 1000 days of life are a critical time for establishing healthy eating and activity behaviours that can have health and economic benefits into adulthood.
INFANT was offered through existing Maternal and Child Health Nurse-led new parent groups, providing a social opportunity to support mothers and families during the first year of their child’s life.
2008-2010: Efficacy trial
The INFANT Program was first conducted as a research project by Deakin University researchers in 2008.
The initial study was a cluster randomised controlled trial within local government areas around Melbourne and involving 542 first-time mothers from when their infants were 4 to 20 months of age.
Parents were in one of two groups – those receiving usual care and those receiving INFANT, offered as six sessions delivered over the infant’s first 18 months.
This early health promotion trial found benefits for children and parents. Read more about the benefits here.
In the 2008 randomised controlled trial (RCT) the INFANT program had positive effects on a range of parents’ and children’s health behaviours at 5 years of age:
- At 18 months old – Children watched less television, consumed fewer sweet snacks and had improved dietary quality. Children of younger and less-educated mothers drank more water and ate more vegetables (1). Mothers diets were also improved (2).
- At 3.5 and 5 years old – Children consumed more fruit and vegetables and more water at 3.5 years of age, and less sugar-sweetened drinks at 5 years. At both ages, children consumed less sweet snacks and viewed less television (approaching significance) (3).
- Campbell, K. J., S. Lioret, S. A. McNaughton, D. A. Crawford, J. Salmon, K. Ball, Z. McCallum, B. E. Gerner, A. C. Spence, A. J. Cameron, J. A. Hnatiuk, O. C. Ukoumunne, L. Gold, G. Abbott and K. D. Hesketh (2013). “A parent-focused intervention to reduce infant obesity risk behaviors: a randomized trial.” Pediatrics 131(4): 652-660. DOI: 1542/peds.2012-2576
- Lioret, S., K. J. Campbell, D. Crawford, A. C. Spence, K. Hesketh and S. A. McNaughton (2012). “A parent focused child obesity prevention intervention improves some mother obesity risk behaviors: the Melbourne inFANT program.” Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 9: 100. https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-9-100
- Hesketh, K.D., Salmon, J., McNaughton, S.A. Crawford, D. Abbott, G. Cameron, A.J., Lioret, D, Gold, L., Downing, K.L., and 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. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 17, 95 . DOI: 10.1186/s12966-020-00994-9
2012-2019: Small-scale translation
In 2011, INFANT was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to enable the program to be offered to selected local government areas. A total of 8 of 12 areas opted to run the program with strong acceptance and adoption by Maternal and Child Health Nurses and other health professionals.
Findings highlighted many examples of program integration, promoted by a range of factors including:
- Strengthened partnerships between early years’ service providers
- Increased awareness of and commitment to the early years as a period for obesity prevention
- Identification of the need for healthy lifestyle services for children under 2 years of age
This small-scale translation trial provided proof of concept for implementation at scale. Insights from this research have informed modifications and improvements of program delivery at scale.
Read case studies from the sites that continue to run INFANT here.
The results of the small-scale trial can be found here.
2019: Enhancements to INFANT
In response to small-scale translation findings from providers and parents, a range of program enhancements were made to strengthen INFANT:
- Developed low-cost online facilitator training, enabling INFANT training to be undertaken at any internet-accessible location.
- Developed an INFANT smart-phone app and website – My Baby Now. These technologies complement the face-to-face sessions and provide ‘around the clock’, high-quality information and personalised support.
- Reduced the face-to-face program from six to four sessions accommodating parents’ earlier return to work. The My Baby Now app delivers the content previously covered in sessions five and six.
2020: State-wide scale-up
From 2020, Victorian organisations, such as Maternal and Child Health services and community health services, will have the opportunity to be trained to deliver INFANT as part of their usual care. This is part of a 5-year Partnership Project Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Regions will receive implementation guidance to support them in embedding INFANT into routine service delivery. There is flexibility with how INFANT is embedded into services, who facilitates it, where it is held and how long it takes to set up – this will depend on your local area readiness, capacity and resources.
Uptake of INFANT is expected to be staggered across local government areas. Once organisations complete their set-up and training, they will be able to commence INFANT delivery, with an expected 1-3 local government areas commencing each quarter.
Learn how to implement INFANT in your local area here.
The INFANT Logic Model
A program logic model is a way to display how a program works. Our logic model shows the relationships between the overarching goal of INFANT and the resources, services and activities required to successfully achieve the desired program and implementation outcomes.
The model outlines the program and how to effectively run and implement INFANT ultimately to achieve the intended objective; to scale-up and implement the INFANT program across Victoria to address the lifestyle behaviours from the start of life.
About the partnership grant and research
This project secured a 5-year Partnership Project Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (ID number: GNT1161223) to investigate and evaluate INFANT implementation at-scale throughout Victoria and nationally.
Read the protocol research article here.
We are using the RE-AIM framework to evaluate the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance of INFANT when implemented at scale across Victoria.
Specifically, we will assess:
Effectiveness and cost effectiveness when delivered at scale
Measured as uptake by LGAs and factors influencing program
Including program fidelity and adaptations, barriers and facilitators
Including proportion of LGAs continuing to implement INFANT at 2 years and factors influencing sustained delivery
The INFANT Program is led by the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University.
Project partners include:
- The University of Sydney – sydney.edu.au
- RMIT University – rmit.edu.au
- Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) – vichealth.vic.gov.au
- Victorian Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation (VACCHO) – vaccho.org.au
- Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – dhhs.vic.gov.au
- Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) – mav.asn.au
- City of Whittlesea – whittlesea.vic.gov.au
- Sunraysia Community Health Service – schs.com.au
- Raising Children Network (RCN) – raisingchildren.net.au
- Western Alliance Academic Health Science Centre – westernalliance.org.au