Infancy is a time of rapid transition from a diet of virtually nothing but milk (either breast milk or infant formula) to a varied diet from nearly all food groups being consumed on a daily basis by most infants. Despite various recommendations about infant feeding, little is known about actual patterns of feeding among US infants. This article documents transitions in infant feeding patterns across the first year of life and determinants of key aspects of infant feeding.
Using data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, we analyzed responses to a 7-day food-recall chart that was administered every month. The sample size declined from 2907 at birth to 1782 at 12 months of age.
Although 83% of survey respondents initiated breastfeeding, the percentage who breastfed declined rapidly to 50% at 6 months and to 24% at 12 months. Many of the women who breastfed also fed their infants formula; 52% reported that their infants received formula while in the hospital. At 4 months, 40% of the infants had consumed infant cereal, 17% had consumed fruit or vegetable products, and <1% had consumed meat. Compared with infants who were not fed solid foods at 4 months, those who were fed solid foods were more likely to have discontinued breastfeeding at 6 months (70% vs 34%) and to have been fed fatty or sugary foods at 12 months (75% vs 62%).
Supplementing breast milk with infant formula while infants were still in the hospital was very common. Despite recommendations that complementary foods not be introduced to infants aged 4 months or younger, almost half of the infants in this study had consumed solid foods by the age of 4 months. This early introduction of complementary foods was associated with unhealthful subsequent feeding behaviors. Pediatrics 2008;122:S36–S42