Latest release

Breastfeeding

Key statistics and data about breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, and introduction to solid foods

Reference period
2020-21 financial year
Released
17/06/2022
Next release Unknown

Key statistics

  • Most (95.9%) children aged 0-3 years received breast milk
  • One in three (35.4%) were exclusively breastfed to 6 months
  • More than half (54.2%) were introduced to solids at 6 months or later

The National Health Survey 2020-21 was collected online during the COVID-19 pandemic and is a break in time series. Data should be used for point-in-time analysis only and can’t be compared to previous years. See Methodology for more information.

Breastfeeding confers health benefits for both mother and child. For breastfed infants, benefits include nutritional, physical and psychological wellbeing, and health advantages may persist into later life[1].

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 while introducing appropriate solid foods until 12 months of age and beyond, for as long as mother and child desire. 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)[1].

Breastfeeding prevalence

Most children aged 0-3 years (95.9%) received breast milk.

At 2 months:

  • Nearly nine in ten (88.6%) were still receiving breast milk
  • Three quarters (74.8%) were exclusively breastfed.

At 4 months:

  • Nearly four in five (79.5%) were still receiving breast milk
  • Around two in three (66.0%) were exclusively breastfed
  • A small proportion (3.3%) were introduced to solids before 4 months. 

At 6 months:

  • Almost three quarters (73.8%) were still receiving breast milk
  • One in three (35.4%) were exclusively breastfed
  • Over half (54.2%) were introduced to solids at 6 months or later.

At 12 months:

  • Half (51.1%) were still receiving breast milk.

Data downloads

TABLE 11 Breastfeeding by age.xlsx

Footnotes

  1. National Health and Medical Research Council, ‘Infant Feeding Guidelines: information for health workers', https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n56; accessed 25/05/2022.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4364.0.00.012.