In the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends:1
- Infants should be fed breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months after birth. 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 1 year, breastfeeding can be continued if mutually desired by the mother and her infant.
The World Health Organization currently promotes as a global public health recommendation that:2
- Infants be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months after birth 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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of new mothers start out breastfeeding, but only a minority still exclusively breastfeed by the time their infants are 6 months old. Many factors influence successful breastfeeding, including support from health care providers, family and community, and the workplace.3
The 2011 Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding makes 20 recommendations to support new mothers in their decision to breastfeed.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 129(3), e827–e841. Retrieved April 27, 2012, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full.pdf+html
- World Health Organization. (2001). The World Health Organization's infant feeding recommendation. Retrieved January 28, 2016, from http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/infantfeeding_recommendation/en/index.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). U.S. Breastfeeding Rates Are Up! More Work Is Needed. Retrieved March 2, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/resources/us-breastfeeding-rates.html