Ways to Support Breastfeeding and Infant Nutrition
Early years providers can play an important role in supporting the breastfeeding relationship between mothers and their children. You can help support and promote breastfeeding by:
- Discussing with parents how you can help mothers continue to breastfeed while their child is in care.
- Accommodating visits from mothers who breastfeed their children and providing a comfortable space for breastfeeding/expression of human milk.
- Properly storing and preparing expressed human milk for feedings. Learn how to safely store and prepare expressed human milk here.
For older infants (6-12 months) and young children (12-24 months):
- Support breastfeeding for as long as mother and child want to continue. Provide complementary feeding, along with continued breastfeeding, to provide the nutrients and energy needs of infants six months and older.
- Gradually increase the number of times a day that complementary foods are offered.
- Iron-rich meat, meat alternatives, and iron-fortified cereal are recommended as the first complementary foods. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to progress to introducing a variety of nutritious foods from the family meals.
- Ensure lumpy textures are offered no later than nine months. Progress towards a variety of textures, modified from family foods, by one year of age.
From one year of age, young children begin to have a regular schedule of meals and snacks, with a variety of foods from the fours food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.
- Prepare foods with little or no added salt or sugar.
- Nutritious, higher fat foods such as whole milk, avocado, cheese and nut butters are an important source of energy for young children.
- Offer water in an open cup to satisfy thirst.
- Be role models and instil lifelong healthy eating habits.
Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada & Breastfeeding Committee for Canada (2014) Nutrition for healthy term infants: Recommendations from six to 24 months.
Heymann J & Kramer MS (2009). Public policy and breast-feeding: A straightforward and significant solution. Can J Public Health 100(5):381-383.
Johnston M & Esposito N. (2007). Barriers and facilitators for breastfeeding among working women in the United States. JOGNN 2007 36:9-20.
World Health Organization (2009). Infant and young child feeding (model chapter for textbooks for medical students and allied health professionals). Geneva: World Health Organization.