The National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) Infant Feeding Guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding to around 6 months of age. The guidelines also recommend mothers "continue breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods until 12 months of age and beyond, for as long as the mother and child desire."1 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.1
The majority of children aged 0–3 years in 2014-15 had received breastmilk at some stage (92.0%).
At the time of survey, around three-quarters (72.8%) of children aged 6 months or less were still receiving breastmilk. The proportion still receiving breastmilk decreased to 42.4% of those children aged 7 to 12 months at the time of survey.
Of children aged 13-24 months, 16.5% were still receiving breastmilk. Around half (47.6%) of children in this age group had stopped receiving breastmilk by the age of 6 months, while a further 19.5% had stopped by the age of 12 months. Less than one in ten (5.4%) had never received breastmilk.
Exclusive breastfeeding means the child receives only breastmilk (including expressed milk) and no other fluids, food or water (with the exception of vitamins, minerals and medicines where necessary).
INTRODUCTION OF SOLID FOOD
- Of children aged 2 to 24 months around three-quarters (72.6%) were exclusively breastfed to at least 2 months of age.
- Of children aged 4 to 24 months, around two-thirds (61.6%) had been exclusively breastfed to at least 4 months of age.
- Of children aged 6 to 24 months, around one-quarter (24.7%) had been exclusively breastfed to at least 6 months of age.
Of all children aged between 25 and 47 months at time of interview, most (88.3%) had been introduced to some type of food (soft, semi-solid, or solid) by the age of 6 months. Around one-third (35.1%) of children in this age group had been introduced to some type of food when aged between 0 and 4 months, and around half (53.7%) between the ages of 5 and 6 months.
The breastfeeding data from the 2014-15 National Health Survey is not comparable to the data from the 2011-12 National Health Survey. For more information, see Explanatory Notes.
- National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012, Infant Feeding Guidelines: information for health workers, <https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n56>, Last accessed 10/02/2017.