additional research is needed on many of the issues discussed
herein, the following conclusions are well substantiated by the
evidence available to date:
Brest milk alone can meet nutrient
needs during the first 6 months, with the possible exception of
vitamin D in certain populations and iron in infants of relatively
low birth weight. Complementary foods offered before 6 months of age
tend to displace breast milk and do not confer any growth advantage
over exclusive breastfeeding.
Breast milk continues to provide
substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of
life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins.
Breastfed infants tend to gain less
weight and usually are leaner than are formula-fed infants in the
second half of infancy. This difference does not seem to be the
result of nutritional deficits but rather infant self-regulation of
energy intake. New growth charts based on infants breastfed
throughout the first year of life are being developed by WHO.
The nutrients most likely to be
limiting in the diets of breastfed infants are minerals, such as
iron, zinc , and calcium. Using the following guidelines can help to
ensure that the nutrient needs of the breastfed child are met:
Continue to breastfeed as often as
the infant desires.
Aim for a variety of complentary
foods, with fruits, vegetables, and animal products (e.g.,meat,
fish, poultry, or egg) offered daily. Iron-fotified cereals and
meats can provide adequate iron. Calcium can be obtained from
cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products (although fresh cow's milk
is not recommended before 12 mo). Avoid giving too much juice.
Be alert to any signs that the
child's appetite, growth, or development is impaired. When in doubt,
a balanced vitaminmineral supplement is advisable.
Make mealtimes enjoyable.
(The Pediatric Clinic of North America)
BREASTFEEDING 2001, PART I:
THE EVIDENCE FOR BREASTFEEDING
Volume 48.Number1.February 2001