Objective: To compare infant feeding practices among low-income, urban, African-American women enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) with current recommendations for infant feeding.
Design: Longitudinal follow-up of women and their infants who participated in a WIC-based breast-feeding promotion project. Women enrolled prenatally at or before 24 weeks of gestation were followed up until 16 weeks postpartum.
Subjects/setting: Two hundred seventeen African-American WIC participants in an urban area.
Methods: Data related to infant feeding practices were collected by interviewers who used a structured questionnaire to determine when nonmilk liquids or solids were introduced to the infant. Reported practices were compared with current recommendations.
Statistical analysis performed: Contingency table analysis, including chi 2 tests, and multivariate analysis using logistic regression.
Results: By 7 to 10 days postpartum, approximately a third of infants were receiving some nonmilk liquids or solids; this escalated to 77% by 8 weeks and 93% by 16 weeks postpartum. Women breast-feeding exclusively (i.e., not adding nonmilk liquids or solids) were least likely, and women providing mixed feeding (breast milk and formula) were more likely, than women feeding formula exclusively to introduce nonmilk liquids and solids at each data collection time period.
Applications/conclusions: WIC participants who receive instruction about infant feeding nutrition are no more likely than mothers who do not participate in WIC to follow infant feeding guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics in regard to the time when solids should be introduced to infants' diet. Our findings suggest the need for WIC to implement more powerful and innovative educational and motivational strategies to help mothers delay the introduction of nonmilk liquids and solid foods until their infants are 4 to 6 months old, as recommended.