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released: 20 Dec 2011 author: AIHW media release

The 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey is the first specialised national survey of infant feeding practices in Australia. The survey also collected information on attitudes towards, and enablers for and barriers against breastfeeding. This report provides baseline data on key infant feeding indicators, including: most babies (96%) were initially breastfed, but only 39% were exclusively breastfed for less than 4 months, and 15% for less than 6 months; overall 35% of infants were introduced to solid foods by 4 months of age and 92% by the recommended age of 6 months.

ISBN 978-1-74249-269-8; Cat. no. PHE 156; 69pp.; Internet only

Summary

The 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey, conducted in 2010–11, was the first large-scale, specialised, national survey of infant feeding practices and related attitudes and behaviours conducted in Australia. The main aim of the survey was to provide baseline data on estimates of the prevalence and duration of breastfeeding and other feeding practices adopted by mothers/carers.

Main findings

Initiation, duration and intensity of breastfeeding

• Breastfeeding was initiated for 96% of children aged 0–2 years.

• Around 69% of infants were still receiving some breastmilk at 4 months of age, although only 39% were exclusively breastfed to 3 months (less than 4 months), and around 60% were still receiving some breastmilk at 6 months, but only 15% were exclusively breastfed to 5 months (less than 6 months).

• A total of 47% of infants were predominantly (fully) breastfed to 3 months (less than 4 months), dropping to 21% predominantly breastfed to 5 months (less than 6 months).

 Introduction of non-human milk and other fluids/foods

In the day before the survey:

• About 40% of infants aged 1 month old received non-human milk or infant formula, with the rate rising gradually to 55% at 6 months. Nearly 80% of children aged 12 months received non-human milk or infant formula.

• Less than 1% of infants aged 1 month old had consumed soft/semi-solid/solid food, rising to 35% of infants aged 4 months, 92% of infants aged 6 months and 95% of children aged 12 months.

Characteristics associated with breastfeeding practices

• Higher rates of initiation and higher intensity feeding for longer periods were associated with:

– mothers/carers aged 35 and over

– mothers/carers with tertiary education, and higher incomes

– infants who did not regularly use a dummy.

• These same groups were associated with lower and later rates of introduction of non-human milk and soft/semi-solid/solid foods.

Factors influencing breastfeeding practices

• The reasons most cited for giving the child breastmilk were ‘healthier for child’ (94%), ‘convenient’ (64%) and ‘helps with mother–infant bonding’ (64%).

• The reasons most cited for not breastfeeding were ‘previously unsuccessful experience’ (38%), ‘so my partner can share feeding’ (29%) and ‘infant formula as good as breastmilk’ (26%).

Recommended citation

AIHW 2011. 2010 Australian national infant feeding survey: indicator results. Cat. no. PHE 156. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 23 August 2014 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737420927>.