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Healthier You > Breastfeeding


There are various health organisations that have made recommendations regarding breastfeeding duration and intensity.

World Health Organization (WHO) [3]
As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed  for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health.

Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods  while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) [4]
For Australia, it is recommended that as many infants as possible be exclusively breastfed until six months of age.

It is further recommended that mothers then continue breastfeeding until 12 months of age and beyond if both mother and infant wish.

After six months, continued breastfeeding along with complementary foods for at least 12 months will bring continuing benefits.

The objectives for Australia are to have at least 90 per cent of babies start breastfeeding and 80 per cent of babies being breastfed at the age of six months.

Queensland Health [5]
Optimal infant nutrition is provided through exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and the introduction of appropriate solid food at this age in addition to continued breastfeeding to at least 12 months.

Breastfeeding rates for the first 12 months in 2003 in Qld [6]

Graph on Breastfeeding rates for the first 12 months in 2003 in Qld

In 2003 91.8 per cent of children less than five years of age had ever been fed breastmilk, comparable to the NHMRC objective of breastfeeding initiation rate in excess of 90 per cent.

At six months of age the rate of breastfeeding had fallen to 57 per cent, well below the NHMRC objective of 80 pet cent of infants' breastfeeding at this age.

The most dramatic drop in breastfeeding rates occurred in the first month postpartum with the breastfeeding rate at one month being 79 per cent.

In this survey one in five mothers (19 per cent) who had returned to work reported 'return to work' as a reason for breastfeeding cessation.

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Last Updated: 04 October 2013
Last Reviewed: 04 November 2008