Early feeding in child care in the United States: Are state regulations supporting breastfeeding?

Sarah Gonzalez-Nahm, Elyse R. Grossman, Natasha Frost, Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Most women in the US are not meeting the recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding their infants for the first 6 months of life. The child care environment can be especially influential in a mother's ability to continue breastfeeding after returning to employment. For this study, we reviewed child care regulations related to breastfeeding for centers and homes in all 50 states and the District of Colombia in late 2016, and compared them to 5 national standards. We coded regulations as either not meeting, partially meeting, or fully meeting each standard. We assessed correlations between number of regulations consistent with standards and 1) geographic census region and 2) last year of update. This study provides an update to a previous review conducted in 2012. No state met all 5 of the included standards, and only 2 states for centers and 1 state for homes at least partially met 4 of the 5 standards. More states had regulations consistent with standards encouraging general support for breastfeeding and requiring a designated place for mothers to breastfeed onsite. Number of regulations consistent with standards was associated with geographic census region, but not last year of update. States in the South had a greater number of regulations consistent with standards and states in the West had the fewest number of regulations consistent with standards. Overall support for breastfeeding at the state child care regulation level continues to be insufficient. States should improve child care regulations to include greater support for breastfeeding in child care facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-236
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Breastfeeding
  • Child care
  • Infant feeding
  • Policy
  • Regulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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