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What are the recommendations for breastfeeding?

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For women in the U.S., the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends:1

  • Infants should be fed breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months of life. Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant does not receive any additional foods (except vitamin D) or fluids unless medically recommended.
  • After the first 6 months and until the infant is 1 year old, the AAP recommends that the mother continue breastfeeding while gradually introducing solid foods into the infant's diet.
  • After one year, breastfeeding can be continued if mutually desired by the mother and her infant.

The World Health Organization currently recommends as a global public health recommendation that:2

  • Infants be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life to achieve optimal growth, development, and health.
  • After the first 6 months, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Recommendations to support breastfeeding

While 75% of new mothers start out breastfeeding, only 13% of them still exclusively breastfeed by the time their infants are 6 months old. Many factors influence a mother’s successful breastfeeding, including support from medical professionals, her family and community, and her job. The 2013 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding makes 20 recommendations to support new mothers in their decision to breastfeed.

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012, February 27). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk [Policy statement]. Pediatrics, 129, e827–e841. Retrieved April 27, 2012, from External Web Site Policy [top]
  2. World Health Organization. (2001, May 1). The World Health Organization's infant feeding recommendation. Retrieved June 13, 2012, from External Web Site Policy [top]

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