e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Exclusive breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both the mother and infant. Breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs in the first six months of life. Breastfeeding protects against diarrhoea and common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, and may also have longer-term health benefits for the mother and child, such as reducing the risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence.

Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk. No other liquids or solids are given – not even water – with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines.

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
Other guidance documents

Evidence


Related Cochrane reviews
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials
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Last update:

10 October 2014 13:45 CEST

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently 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.