The transition from exclusive breastfeeding to family foods – referred to as complementary feeding – typically covers the period from 6–24 months of age. 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.
WHO recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods, while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or more.
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.
The framework on essential actions for complementary feeding
Status: guidelines under development
Guiding principles for complementary feeding of the breastfed child
Global strategy for infant and young child feeding
Systematic review of the efficacy and effectiveness of complementary feeding interventions in developing countries