4364.0.55.002 - Australian Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2011-12  
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BREASTFEEDING

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) dietary guidelines1 recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants until six months of age, with combined solid food and breastfeeding until 12 months of age. Breastfeeding confers benefits for both breastfed babies and breastfeeding mothers; for example, breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from infections and disease while breastfeeding mothers are also likely to recover more quickly from childbirth2.

This chapter contains information about breastfeeding patterns obtained via proxy for respondents aged 0-3 years.

Breastfeeding initiation

The majority of children aged 0–3 years had ever received breastmilk (92.3%) (Table 16.1).

In 2011-12, nearly three-quarters (73.9%) of children aged 4 months or less were still receiving breastmilk, while by the ages of 6 to 9 months this had decreased to around half (50.2%). Less than one-third (29.7%) of children aged 9 to 12 months were still receiving breastmilk (Table 15.3).

Graph Image for Children aged 0-3 years - Proportion currently receiving any breastmilk, 2011-12


Exclusive breastfeeding

Exclusive breastfeeding means the child receives only breastmilk (including expressed milk) and no other fluids or food (with the exception of vitamins, minerals and medicines where necessary).

Exclusive breastfeeding to 2 months of age occurred for over half (57.8%) of all children aged 2 months or more, while of all children aged 4 months or more, 38.6% had been exclusively breastfed to at least 4 months or age. Exclusive breastfeeding to at least 6 months occurred for 17.6% of all children aged 6 months or more (Table 16.1).

Graph Image for Proportion of all children who were exclusively breastfed, 2011-12

Footnote(s): (a) Of all children aged 2 months or more. (b) Of all children aged 4 months or more. (c) Of all children aged 6 months or more.

Source(s): Australian Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions



Of all children aged 12 months to 3 years, 11.3% had been exclusively breastfed to 6 months with continued breastfeeding to at least 12 months. A further 7.7% had been exclusively breastfed to 6 months, but without continued breastfeeding to 12 months (Table 16.1).

Introduction of solid food

Of all children aged 2 to 3 years (more than 24 months in Table 15.3), most (85.0%) had been introduced to some type of food (soft, semi-solid, or solid) by the age of 6 months, comprising 22.6% who were first introduced by 4 months and 62.4% between 4 and 6 months (Table 15.3).

For more information see Table 15: Breastfeeding and Table 16: Breastfeeding: Exclusive breastfeeding, Children aged 0-3 years.

1. National Health and Medical Research Council, Feb 2013, Dietary Guidelines for all Australians, <http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/n29-n30-n31-n32-n33-n34>, Last accessed 22/03/2013.

2. National Health & Medical Research Council, April 2003, Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia incorporating the Infant Feeding Guidelines for Health Workers, <http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n34.pdf>, Last accessed 22/03/2013.



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