Despite decades of research establishing the importance of breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact and mother-infant closeness, the response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has underscored the hidden assumption that these practices can be dispensed with no consequences to mother or child. This article aims to support shared decision-making process for infant feeding and care with parents and health care providers during the unprecedented times of the pandemic. It proposes a structure and rationale to guide the process that includes (1) discussing with parents evidence-based information and the different options to feed and care for an infant and young child in the context of the pandemic as well as their potential benefits, risks and scientific uncertainties; (2) helping parents to recognize the sensitive nature of the decisions and to clarify the value they place on the different options to feed and care for their infant or young child; and (3) providing guidance and support needed to make and implement their decisions. A shared decision-making process will help parents navigate complex feeding and care decisions for their child as we face the different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; breastfeeding; breastfeeding support; childhood infections; infant and child nutrition; infant and young child feeding in emergencies; infant care; infant feeding decisions; rooming-in; skin-to-skin contact.
© 2021 The Authors. Maternal & Child Nutrition published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.