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527 (1-14)


Nearly half of newborns in the United States are enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Promoting breastfeeding is a programmatic priority, although formula vouchers are provided for those who do not exclusively breastfeed. Previous literature suggests that participant perception of WIC’s breastfeeding recommendations is a significant factor predicting breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity outcomes. However, little is known about how participants’ perceptions of WIC’s breastfeeding recommendations are formed. To address this knowledge gap, we conducted a qualitative pilot study in Nevada, interviewing 10 postpartum WIC mothers and 12 WIC staff who had interacted with participants regarding infant feeding. Results showed participants and staff reported various perceptions of what WIC recommends, the factors that contribute to these perceptions, and how these perceptions affect breastfeeding practices. Respondents also described that WIC has a negative legacy as the “free formula program,” and that environmental factors, such as the recent formula recall, have had an impact on participants’ infant feeding practices. More effective public campaigns and programmatic strategies are needed to target participants’ prenatal self-efficacy and to communicate the availability of skilled lactation support in the early postpartum period to improve participants’ perceptions of WIC’s position on breastfeeding.


© 2023 by the authors.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License.

Data Availability

Article states: Due to the sensitive nature of the interview scripts, no data will be available.

Original Publication Citation

Fisher, E., Wouk, K., Patel, P., Tang, C., & Zhang, Q. (2023). Forming the perception of WIC infant feeding recommendations: A qualitative study. Nutrients, 15(3), 1-14, Article 527.