e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Complementary feeding

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.

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available

Other guidance documents


Related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

25 March 2014 13:23 CET

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