Complementary feeding should provide a balanced meal rich in nutrients essential for growth and development. The World Health Organization (WHO) European Region has minimal information on child and newborn feeding guidelines. The WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) conducted a study of national infant and early child nutrition guidelines addressed at national government health departments and national paediatric specialists. Questions centered on national guidelines for breast-feeding and supplementary feeding. There was information available from 48 of the 53 Member States. National recommendations on baby and early child nutrition exist in 45 of the 48 nations, with 41 approved by official public health agencies. When it comes to the start of supplementary feeding, 25 nations agree that 6 months is the optimal age. The suggested meal composition varies greatly; iron-rich meals should be introduced at the age of 6 months in 30 of the 43 nations, whereas 13 advocate later introduction.
National baby feeding guidelines range greatly amongst the nations investigated and, in some cases, contradict international standards. When supplementary feeding is introduced too early, the duration of exclusive breast-feeding is reduced (EBF). If iron-rich complementary meals are introduced too late, they may raise the risk of anemia and have a negative impact on infant development. It indicates that national suggestions should be reviewed and further harmonized.