e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Cup-feeding for low-birth-weight infants unable to fully breastfeed

Every year, more than 20 million infants are born weighing less than 2500 g – over 96% of them in developing countries. These low-birth-weight infants are at increased risk of neonatal morbidity and mortality.

WHO recommends that low-birth-weight infants should be fed mother's own milk. If these infants cannot be fed mother's own milk, they should be fed donor human milk (in settings where safe and affordable milk banking facilities are available or can be set up) or standard infant formula.

Low-birth-weight infants who are unable to breastfeed can be fed by alternative oral feeding methods such as bottle-feeding or cup-feeding. Studies comparing these methods have shown that cup-feeding improves exclusive breastfeeding rates at discharge but these benefits are not sustained. Cup-feeding is also associated with prolonged hospital stays. However, as cups are easier to clean than bottles, cup-feeding could potentially reduce the risk of severe infections such as diarrhoea.

WHO recommendations

Low-birth-weight infants who need to be fed by an alternative oral feeding method should be fed by cup (or palladai, which is a cup with a beak) or spoon.


The full set of recommendations for feeding of low birth-weight infants can be found in the guideline, Guidelines on optimal feeding of low birth-weight infants in low- and middle-income countries , under ‘WHO documents’ below.

WHO documents


GRC-approved guidelines

Evidence


Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Related Cochrane reviews
Clinical trials
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Last update:

28 July 2014 17:15 CEST

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Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Implementation

There is not yet any implementation information related to this intervention in GINA

Essential Nutrition Actions

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