Hospital influences on early infant-feeding practices

M. I. Reiff, S. M. Essock-Vitale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Newborn nursery nursing staff members were surveyed to determine their attitudes and teaching practices regarding breast- and bottle-feeding. Concurrently, mothers using this nursery responded to a structured interview concerning their infant-feeding practices at 14 to 21 days postpartum and possible hospital influences on these practices. The nursing staff strongly advocated breast-feeding and did not favour specific bottle-feeding practices or products. Nursing staff counseling was generally interpreted by mothers as supporting breast-feeding, but this did not deter a large proportion of mothers who stated an initial preference for breast-feeding from introducing formula as a supplementary or exclusive form of infant feeding during the short study period. Almost all mothers doing any amount of bottle-feeding at the time of their interview were using the same formula brand and a ready-to-feed preparation used during their hospital stay. Other influences on mother's infant-feeding patterns are discussed. It is concluded that the hospital staff and routines exerted a stronger influence on mothers' infant-feeding practices by nonverbal teaching (the hospital 'modeling' of infant formula products) than by verbal teaching (counseling supporting breast-feeding). Future studies might explore new ways of supporting mothers who desire to breast-feed by designing innovative hospital routines to model breast-feeding rather than feeding by infant formula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-879
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1985


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