, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 247-256
Date: 16 Oct 2013

Complementary Feeding: Critical Considerations to Optimize Growth, Nutrition, and Feeding Behavior


This review focuses on complementary feeding (CF) in westernized settings where primary health concerns are risk of obesity and micronutrient inadequacy. The current evidence is reviewed for: (1) when CF should be introduced, (2) what foods (nutrients and food types) should be prioritized and avoided, and (3) how the infant should be fed. Special attention is paid to the underlying physiological differences between breast- and formula-fed infants that often result in distinctly different nutritional and health risks. This difference is particularly acute in the case of micronutrient inadequacy, specifically iron and zinc, but is also relevant to optimal energy and macronutrient intakes. Emphasis is placed on the complex interplay among infants’ early dietary exposures; relatively high energy and nutrient requirements; rapid physical, social and emotional development; and the feeding environment—all of which interact to impact health outcomes. This complexity needs to be considered at both individual and population levels and in both clinical and research settings.