The research question was: “Are bottle fed babies introduced to solid foods sooner than breast fed babies?” The literature review process mostly centered on medical journals, but other journals that covered the research topic were also included.
The literature search process
The key words in the research question were: bottle-feeding, introducing solid foods and breast feeding. All the articles that talked about breastfeeding in CINAHL, MEDLINE and PsychLine were identified. In order to expand the research base to other articles that may not be in these databases, the key words were typed into Google scholar. This explains why some of the journals seemed unconventional and not typically found in nursing databases. There were hundreds of articles that emanated from the databases as well as Google scholar.
In order to zero-in on the relevant ones, articles that focused on the effects of early breastfeeding cessation were excluded. This was because the research question focused on the causes rather than the effects. Additionally, some papers talked about the relationship between breastfeeding and other diseases; these were also eliminated because they did not dwell on the main topic. Since introduction to solid foods is also known as weaning, then all articles that centered on reasons for early feeding were analyzed.
If any mention was given to bottle-feeding or comparisons were made between the two, then the article was considered (Welbourn, 1958). Other papers that talked about early breast feeding cessation were also analyzed since they could also mention bottle-feeding as one of the causes (Araujo et al., 2008), (Saeed, 1997). Precedence was given to articles that had bottle feeding and weaning as variables or breastfeeding and weaning.
It should be noted that there were plenty of papers that also talked about the health dangers or effects of bottle feeding. Unless those health effects related to the early introduction of solid foods, then the studies were not considered.
The research questions and objectives for each of these articles were particularly insightful in determining whether the paper would be relevant. For instance Winikoff & Laukaran (2002) had the following as one of their five research questions: “Is bottle feeding making women breastfeed less?” This was quite relevant to the topic under analysis.
In addition to the above, care was taken to get representation from different parts of the world in order to acknowledge the fact that geography may sometimes play a role in weaning children. For instance one of the analyses focused on cessation of breastfeeding in Senegal (Mane et al., 2006). This is a developing country that probably has several challenges that mothers in developed nations do not face. Consequently the article would contribute towards a multiplicity of perspectives in the literature review.
It was also necessary to look into the validity and the quality of research undertaken by the authors of the articles. Since the design of the studies could bias them, then it was imperative to select papers that followed strict systematic approaches. Therefore, their data collection methods, possibilities of confounding and the blinding of researchers were issues that were given precedence.
Care was also taken to include studies that focused on a myriad of study locations. For instance, the report known as “Breast feeding and bottle feeding controversies in the developing world” drew its participants from Thailand, Kenya, Indonesia and Colombia (Winikoff & Laukaran, 2002).
All the studies will contribute towards a comprehensive link between breastfeeding, bottle feeding and early introduction of solid foods.
Araujo, O., Cunha, A., Lustosa, L., Nery, I., Mendonca, R. & Campelo, S. (2008). Breastfeeding: factors that cause early weaning. Rev Bras Enferm, 61(4), 488-492.
Mane, B., Simondon, K., Diallo, A., Marra, A. & Simondon, F. (2006), Early breastfeeding cessation in rural Senegal: causes, modes and consequences. American Journal of Public Health, 96(1), 139-144.
Saeed, K. (1997). Breastfeeding practices and beliefs about weaning among mothers of infants aged 0-12 months. Maternal and Child health Department, 47(2), 54-60.
Welbourn, H. (1958). Bottle feeding: a problem of modern civilization. Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, 3(4), 157-166.
Winikoff, B. & Laukaran, V. (2002). Breastfeeding and bottle feeding controversies in the developing world: Evidence from a study in four countries. Social Science and Medicine, 29(7), 859-868.