25 Jan

Book review: Successful Infant Feeding, by Heather Welford

This comprehensive book takes a broad view of infant feeding, including how-to sections for both breast and bottlefeeding, along with an interesting examination of the history and politics, and the social and emotional aspects of the subject. It gives enough detail to be useful to breastfeeding supporters and other health professionals, without being too dense for parents and parents-to-be.

I warmed to the book immediately on reading the opening chapter, about babies’ development over the first year. This sets the subject of feeding nicely into the wider context of babies’ needs; and yet, without pulling any punches about the risks of formula feeding, manages to be inclusive and non-judgmental about the range of choices that parents make. Importantly, Welford acknowledges that, for many parents, formula feeding is not a choice willingly or happily made, and that it is very hard for health professionals to get the right tone when it comes to supporting parents in making decisions about feeding.

This book is useful because as well as accurate how-to information, it also touches on a range of special situations and common concerns, briefly explains the WHO code, and looks at how individual babies’ feeding patterns might change over time. It even includes enough information on the introduction of solid food to render the purchase of anything by Annabel Karmel completely unnecessary.

The language used is crystal-clear and helpfully free of value-laden terms. I have already heard myself reciting bits of it in antenatal classes (while hoping that Heather won’t want any royalties!), have sent a copy to my sister-in-law who is expecting her first baby, and recommended it widely. It is the book that our profession has been waiting for, and should be on the reading list for anyone working with new parents.