Aim: To describe and evaluate infant feeding practices during the first 6 mo of life in relation to recommendations, and to study infant feeding practices in relation to maternal and infant characteristics.
Methods: Data from 2383 Norwegian infants aged 6 mo were collected by a self-administered semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire measuring feeding practices at 6 mo and feeding practices retrospectively at < or = 5.5 mo of age.
Results: Only 1% of the infants had never been breastfed. The proportion of breastfed infants was 96% at 1 mo, 85% at 4 mo and 80% at 6 mo. The proportion of exclusively breastfed infants was 90% at 1 mo, 44% at 4 mo and 7% at 6 mo. Twenty-one percent of the infants were introduced to solid foods before the age of 4 mo. For exclusive breastfeeding at 4 mo, breastfeeding at 6 mo and timely introduction of solid foods (not before 4 mo) significant positive trends were found for maternal age, education and degree of urbanization. Negative associations were found for maternal smoking. Furthermore, exclusive breastfeeding at 4 mo was associated with infant gender and marital status, and the odds of breastfeeding at 6 mo significantly decreased with decreasing infant birthweight. Finally, both the odds of exclusive breastfeeding at 4 mo and of breastfeeding at 6 mo increased with increasing numbers of children.
Conclusion: These results indicate that a majority of Norwegian infants are fed in accordance with infant feeding recommendations during their first 6mo of life. However, the duration of exclusive breastfeeding is shorter than recommended. Infant feeding practices are significantly associated with maternal and infant characteristics.