Breastfeeding provides babies with the best start in life and is a key contributor to infant health. Australia’s dietary guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants until six months of age, with the introduction of solid foods at around six months and continued breastfeeding until the age of 12 months – and beyond, if both mother and infant wish.
Evidence shows that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from gastroenteritis, respiratory illness and middle ear infection.
Breastfeeding also benefits mother’s by promoting faster recovery from childbirth; and reducing the risks of breast and ovarian cancers in later life.
Australia’s Health 2012 statistics showed that although most babies (96%) in Australia in 2010 were initially breastfed:
- only 39% were exclusively breastfed to around 4 months; and
- only 15% were breastfed to the recommended 6 months.
Australian National Breastfeeding StrategyThe Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015 aims to improve the health, nutrition and wellbeing of infants and young children, and the health and wellbeing of mothers, by protecting, promoting, supporting and monitoring breastfeeding.
The Strategy was developed following the 2007 Parliamentary Inquiry into the Health Benefits of Breastfeeding.
Implementation of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015 is being progressed through the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AMAC), and with ongoing leadership through the Australian Government Department of Health.
The Department also funds a variety of breastfeeding initiatives. For further information please see Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy Implementation.
Related website links
- National Breastfeeding Helpline evaluation
- HealthInsite: breastfeeding topic page
- Get Up & Grow: Health Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood resources including information on breastfeeding and returning to work
- Australian Breastfeeding Association
- Australian College of Midwives Incorporated
- Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand
- AHMC communique - National Breastfeeding Strategy endorsed
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand
- Therapeutic Goods Administration
- Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne
- World Health Organization
- Understanding Childhood Immunisation Booklet
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