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Growing up with ILLUMA 3

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Global Health Recommendations on Optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding

WHO and UNICEF's global recommendations for optimal infant feeding as set out in the Global Strategy are:

  • exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months (180 days);
  • nutritionally adequate and safe complementary feeding starting from the age of 6 months with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Exclusive breastfeeding means that an infant receives only breast milk from his or her mother or a wet nurse, or expressed breast milk, and no other liquids or solids, not even water, with the exception of oral rehydration solution, drops or syrups consisting of vitamins, minerals supplements or medicines.

Complementary feeding is defined as the process starting when breast milk is no longer sufficient to meet the nutritional requirements of infants, and therefore other foods and liquids are needed, along with breast milk. The target range for complementary feeding is generally taken to be 6 to 23 months of age,1 even though breastfeeding may continue beyond two years.


Sources: World Health Organization. The global burden of disease: 2004 update. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2008; Black R et al. Maternal and child under nutrition: global and regional exposures and health consequences.
Lancet, 2008, 371:243–260.

Name of Publication: Infant and Young Child Feeding Mode Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals, World Health Organization, 2009, Page 3-4

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