e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Complementary feeding

Complementary feeding is defined as the process starting when breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet the nutritional requirements of infants, and therefore other foods and liquids are needed, along with breast milk. The transition from exclusive breastfeeding to family foods – referred to as complementary feeding – typically covers the period from 6 - 24 months of age, even though breastfeeding may continue to two years of age and beyond. This is a critical period of growth during which nutrient deficiencies and illnesses contribute globally to higher rates of undernutrition among children under five years of age.

A number of successful strategies have been developed to improve complementary feeding practices in low- and middle-income countries, where practical difficulties can limit adherence to complementary feeding guidelines.

WHO recommendations

Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health.

Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods, while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.

WHO documents


GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available

Other guidance documents

Evidence


Related systematic reviews
Clinical trials
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Last update:

28 July 2014 17:02 CEST

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Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Essential Nutrition Actions

This intervention is supported by Essential Nutrition Actions targeting the first 1000 days of life.