BACKGROUND: Baby-led breastfeeding is recommended as best practice in determining the frequency and duration of a breastfeed. An alternative approach is described as scheduled, where breastfeeding is timed and restricted in frequency and duration. It is necessary to review the evidence that supports current recommendations, so that mothers are provided with high-quality evidence to inform their feeding decisions.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of baby-led compared with scheduled (or mixed) breastfeeding for successful breastfeeding, for healthy newborns.
SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (13 November 2013), CINAHL (1981 to 13 November 2013), EThOS, Index to Theses and ProQuest database and World Health Organization's 1998 evidence to support the 'Ten Steps' to successful breastfeeding (6 November 2013).
SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised and quasi-randomised trials with randomisation at both the individual and cluster level. Studies presented in abstract form were eligible for inclusion if sufficient data were available. Studies using a cross-over design were not eligible for inclusion.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We independently assessed for inclusion all the potential studies we identified as a result of the search strategy. We would have resolved any disagreement through discussion or, if required, consulted a third review author, but this was not necessary.
MAIN RESULTS: No studies were identified that were eligible for inclusion in this review.
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: This review demonstrates that there is no evidence from randomised controlled trials evaluating the effect of baby-led compared with scheduled (or mixed) breastfeeding for successful breastfeeding, for healthy newborns, therefore no conclusions could be taken at this point. It is recommended that no changes are made to current practice guidelines without undertaking further robust research, to include many patterns of breastfeeding and not limited to baby-led and scheduled breastfeeding. Further research is needed to also evaluate the effects of baby-led compared with scheduled (or mixed) breastfeeding on successful breastfeeding, for healthy newborns. However, conducting such a study, particularly a randomised controlled trial is unlikely to receive ethical approval, as the issue of obtaining informed consent from new mothers or mothers-to-be for randomisation between baby-led and scheduled breastfeeding is a difficult one and it is likely that the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative practices would prohibit such a study.