International Board Certified Lactation Consultants’ Practices Regarding Supplemental Feeding Methods for Breastfed Infants

Frances Penny, Michelle Judge, Elizabeth A. Brownell, Jacqueline M. McGrath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: According to the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, when supplementary feeding occurs, mothers should be counseled on the use and risks of feeding bottles and teats. To help support this initiative it is important to understand the supplementation practices of Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC)®. Research aims: To determine (1) if the location of an IBCLC’s practice has any impact on supplemental feeding methods; (2) the preferred methods of and the main reasons for supplementation; (3) the level of an IBCLC’s confidence with supplemental feeding methods; (4) who is making supplemental feeding decisions; and (5) if there are geographical differences among supplementation choices and reasons for supplementation. Methods: An exploratory, descriptive, cross sectional survey of IBCLCs was conducted to generate data about their use of supplemental feeding methods. The survey was sent via email invitation through the International Board of Lactation Consultant’s Board of Examiners, with a response rate of 11.5% (N = 2,308). Results: There was no standard method of supplementation among participants. Participants indicated that they were confident advising mothers on alternative feeding methods. Only 17.6% (n = 406) of participants reported that the IBCLC was the caregiver who recommended the method of supplementation used. The majority of participants believed the Supplemental Feeding Tube Device SFTD) best preserves the breastfeeding relationship, and this was their preferred method of supplementation. However, the bottle was ranked as the number one method used in the United States, Australia, and Canada. The use of alternative feeding methods may be overwhelming to the mother. Conclusion: Supplementation by alternative feeding methods might help preserve the breastfeeding relationship and help reach the World Health Organization’s goal of increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-694
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
  • artificial feeding
  • breastfeeding support
  • supplementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'International Board Certified Lactation Consultants’ Practices Regarding Supplemental Feeding Methods for Breastfed Infants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this