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To describe adherence with infant feeding and complementary feeding guidelines.
Prospective study of infant feeding and complementary feeding practices were collected as part of the Cork BASELINE Birth Cohort Study.
Data are described for the 823 infants for whom a diary was completed.
Breast-feeding was initiated in 81 % of infants, and 34 %, 14 % and 1 % of infants were exclusively breast-fed at hospital discharge, 2 and 6 months, respectively. Stage one infant formula decreased from 71 % at 2 months to 13 % at 12 months. The majority of infants (79 %) were introduced to solids between 17 and 26 weeks and 18 % were given solid foods before 17 weeks. Mothers of infants who commenced complementary feeding prior to 17 weeks were younger (29·8 v. 31·5 years; P<0·001) and more likely to smoke (18 v. 8 %; P=0·004). The first food was usually baby rice (69 %), infant breakfast cereals (14 %) or fruit/vegetables (14 %). Meals were generally home-made (49 %), cereal-based (35 %), manufactured (10 %), dairy (3 %) and dessert-based (3 %). The median gap between the first–second, second–third, third–fourth and fourth–fifth new foods was 4, 2, 2 and 2 d, respectively.
We present the largest prospective cohort study to date on early infant feeding in Ireland. The rate of breast-feeding is low by international norms. Most mothers introduce complementary foods between 4 and 6 months with lengthy gaps between each new food/food product. There is a high prevalence of exposure to infant breakfast cereals, which are composite foods, among the first foods introduced.
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