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Keywords:

  • breastfeeding;
  • formula;
  • infant food;
  • maternal behaviour;
  • weaning

Aim

To accurately establish the extent to which breastfeeding exclusivity and duration and the introduction of foods other than breast milk are congruous with Australian infant feeding guidelines among a cohort of primiparous women and their infants in Australia.

Method

The Feeding Queensland Babies Study is primarily a questionnaire-based prospective birth cohort study of infant feeding attitudes and behaviours but also collected significant data on feeding patterns in infancy. These data were extracted from the demographic questionnaire and from questionnaires administered at 4 and 6 months of infant age. Participants were healthy primiparous Australian women aged between 18 and 40 years, recruited by convenience sampling in Queensland, Australia. Data were collected by self-administered questionnaire both online and on paper between October 2010 and September 2011.

Results

Breastfeeding initiation in this cohort is high; however, by 4 months of age, 15.4% of mothers had completely ceased any breastfeeding, 28.7% of infants had been given formula and 18.5% had been introduced to baby cereal. By 6 months of age, 98.4% of infants had been introduced to non-milk foods, most commonly at a rate of one new food every 4 to 5 days.

Conclusion

Contemporary prospective data on infant feeding have value in describing trends that may influence the health outcomes of a generation of Australian children. Even in this group of relatively well-educated Australian women, premature cessation of breastfeeding and the early introduction of foods other than breast milk to infants demonstrate behaviours not congruous with evidence-based guidelines.