Feeding of low-birth-weight infants
WHO recommends that low-birth-weight (LBW) infants, including those with very low birth weight (VLBW), 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.
Very-low-birth-weight infants who cannot be fed mother's own milk or donor human milk should be given preterm infant formula if they fail to gain weight despite adequate feeding with standard infant formula.
Low-birth-weight infants who are able to breastfeed should be put to the breast as soon as possible after birth when they are clinically stable, and should be exclusively breastfed until six months of age. Low-birth-weight infants who need to be fed by an alternative oral feeding method should be fed by cup or spoon and should be fed based on the infants' hunger cues, except when the infant remains asleep beyond three hours of the last feed.
Implementation of these recommendations will help to reduce mortality and severe morbidity among these infants while helping in their growth and neurodevelopment.
Guidelines on optimal feeding of low-birth-weight infants in low- and middle-income countries [pdf 492kb]
- Continuous nasogastric milk feeding versus intermittent bolus milk feeding for premature infants less than 1500 grams