They Just Need to Come Down a Little Bit to your Level”: A Qualitative Study of Parents’ Views and Experiences of Early Life Interventions to Promote Healthy Growth and Associated Behaviours”

Type Article

Journal Article


M. Hennessy; M. Byrne; R. Laws; C. Heary

Year of publication



Int J Environ Res Public Health







The first 1000 days is a critical window of opportunity to promote healthy growth and associated behaviours. Health professionals can play an important role, in part due to the large number of routine contacts they have with parents. There is an absence of research on the views of parents towards obesity prevention and the range of associated behaviours during this time period. This study aimed to elicit parents' views on early life interventions to promote healthy growth/prevent childhood obesity, particularly those delivered by health professionals. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 29 parents (24 mothers, 5 fathers) who were resident in Ireland and had at least one child aged under 30 months. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Two central themes were generated: (1) navigating the uncertainty, stress, worries, and challenges of parenting whilst under scrutiny and (2) accessing support in the broader system. Parents would welcome support during this critical time period; particularly around feeding. Such support, however, needs to be practical, realistic, evidence-based, timely, accessible, multi-level, non-judgemental, and from trusted sources, including both health professionals and peers. Interventions to promote healthy growth and related behaviours need to be developed and implemented in a way that supports parents and their views and circumstances.