Objective: To document the type and volume of drinks given to infants and investigate whether giving supplementary drinks leads to reduced milk consumption.
Design: Carers were asked to record all drinks consumed by the infants in a 24-hour period at two ages, detailing the types and volume taken.
Setting: The Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC).
Subjects: A randomly chosen population sample of over 1000 infants at 4 and 8 months of age.
Results: The different types of milk feed were used to group infants, compare volumes consumed and look at the use of non-milk drinks. The average volume of drinks consumed over 24 hours at 4 months was 861 ml and at 8 months was 662 ml. At 4 months 69.7% consumed infant formula and 43.0% breast milk. The mean volume of milk consumed by those having only formula was 802 ml and for those having only breast milk was estimated at 850 ml. The volumes of milks consumed were slightly lower in the groups who also had supplementary drinks. A quarter of infants were given fruit drinks and 14.6% herbal drinks. Supplementary drinks and solids were more likely to be given to formula-fed than breast-fed infants. At 8 months, formula milk was consumed by 71.4% and breast milk use had decreased (22.9%) but fruit drink use had increased (squash/cordial: 55.8%, fruit juice: 14.9%), with 13.9% of infants having no infant milk at all. More infants were fed formula milk and less were fed cows' milk compared with a nationally representative British study conducted 5 years earlier.
Conclusions: Many infants were given supplementary drinks by 4 months; there is some evidence that this led to a small reduction in milk intake. A minority were not being given infant milks at all by 8 months, contrary to British infant feeding recommendations.