The World Health Organization's infant feeding recommendation
As stated in the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding (WHA55 A55/15, paragraph 10):
Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed1 for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health2. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.
See also in this connection:
WHA54 A54/INF.DOC./4 - Global strategy for infant and young child feeding
The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding
Provisional agenda item 13.1, 1 May 2001
- Nutrient adequacy of exclusive breastfeeding for the term infant during the first six months of life (2002)
- Report of the expert consultation of the optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding (2001)
- The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding: a systematic review (2001)
1 "Exclusive breastfeeding" is defined as no other food or drink, not even water, except breast milk (including milk expressed or from a wet nurse) for 6 months of life, but allows the infant to receive ORS, drops and syrups (vitamins, minerals and medicines).
"Predominant breastfeeding" means that the infant's predominant source of nourishment has been breast milk (including milk expressed or from a wet nurse as the predominant source of nourishment). However, the infant may also have received liquids (water and water-based drinks, fruit juice) ritual fluids and ORS, drops or syrups (vitamins, minerals and medicines).
2 As formulated in the conclusions and recommendations of the expert consultation (Geneva, 28-30 March 2001) that completed the systematic review of the optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding (see document A54/INF.DOC./4). See also resolution WHA54.2.