4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/08/2019   
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Key statistics
    • In 2017-18, most (93%) children aged 0-3 years had received breast milk
    • 29% of children aged 6 months to 3 years were exclusively breastfed to 6 months
    • There has been no change in the rate of children aged 6-24 months exclusively breastfed to 6 months since 2014-15 [1].
    • Almost half (48%) of children aged 6 months to 3 years were introduced to solids at 6 months or later

Exclusive breastfeeding refers to children receiving only breast milk (including expressed milk) and no other fluids, food or water (with the exception of vitamins, minerals and medicines where necessary).


Breastfeeding confers health benefits for both mother and child. For breastfed infants, benefits are across nutritional, physical and psychological wellbeing, and health advantages may persist into later life [2].

Infant feeding guidelines

The National Health and Medical Research Council's infant feeding guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding to around 6 months of age. It also recommends mothers "continue breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods until 12 months of age and beyond, for as long as the mother and child desire." [2]


At 2 months of age:
    • Four in five (83%) were still receiving breast milk
    • Almost three quarters (74%) were exclusively breastfed

At 4 months of age:
    • Almost three quarters (73%) were still receiving breast milk
    • Around three in five (61%) were exclusively breastfed
    • A small proportion (6%) were introduced to solids before 4 months, a reduction since 2014-15 (9%)

At 6 months of age:
    • Two thirds (66%) were still receiving breast milk
    • Around three in ten (29%) were exclusively breastfed
    • Over half (53%) had not been introduced to solids before 6 months

Aged 1 to 3 years:
    • One in ten (11%) were still receiving breast milk
    • Two in five (41%) received breast milk for at least 12 months

The rates of children receiving breast milk as well as those exclusively breastfed have remained consistent since 2014-15.

Graph Image for Proportion of children aged up to 3 years who received breast milk at 2, 4 and 6 months, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18


1 The 2014-15 NHS exclusively breastfed rates have been recalculated and do not match the datacube tables in Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.002). Updated 2014-15 NHS data is provided with this publication.
2 National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012, Infant Feeding Guidelines: information for health workers, https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n56, Last accessed 17/07/2019.