THE new baby boxes, due to be delivered to new parents in the New Year, are missing an opportunity to increase breastfeeding, according to a Labour MSP.

The boxes which will include essential items like nappies, bedding and clothes will not include any direct breastfeeding aids.

Monica Lennon, Labour inequalities spokeswoman said it should have been used as a way of increasing breastfeeding rates among mothers, especially in the most deprived areas.

In an answer to a written question the childcare minister Mark McDonald said there were no plans to include direct aids to breastfeeding in the box.

Ms Lennon said breastfeeding gives babies the best start in life and should be promoted in the box with essential items like a breast pump for expressing milk.

She said: “At a time when breastfeeding rates in the poorest areas are so low, this looks like a massive missed opportunity to promote breastfeeding.

“With breastfeeding, babies get natural immunities and fewer infections. They are less likely to be obese in later life.”

She said she and Labour supported the baby box initiative but that it seems to be lacking vital elements.

She added: “Missing basic support like this makes it look like a PR exercise rather than a good piece of public policy.”

Ms Lennon said latest figures show only 15.4% of new mothers from the poorest areas are still breastfeeding at their baby’s six-to-eight week review.

The MSP said since her colleague Elaine Smith introduced the Breastfeeding Act which allowed mothers freedom to breastfeed in public not enough has been done to promote breastfeeding by the government.

Mr McDonald’s answer on December 15, sated “At Present we do not plan to include direct aids to support breastfeeding.”