Breast is no longer best: promoting normal infant feeding

Nina J. Berry and Karleen D. Gribble

Matern Child Nutr. 2008 Jan;4(1):74-9.


The recent release of new growth charts by the World Health Organization (WHO) heralds a fresh understanding of what constitutes normal infant growth and development. The Multicenter Growth Reference Study that underpins these new growth standards ‘establish[es] breastfed infants as the normative model for growth and development’. This is in contrast to past practice, which treated breastfeeding as the optimal, rather than the normal, way to feed babies. This idealization of breastfeeding has been counterproductive, because it has reinforced a perception that formula feeding is the standard way of feeding babies.

It is, therefore, suggested that breastfeeding promotion and education programmes should abandon the ‘breast is best’ message in favour of messages that normalize breastfeeding, and that future research ought to use infants breastfed according to WHO recommendations as the norm reference or control group in every instance.

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