20 December 2011
More than a quarter of new mothers think baby formula is "as good as breast milk", a national survey has found.
Fewer than one in 5 Australian babies are breastfed exclusively for the recommended 6 months, and introduction to solid foods comes earlier than the recommended 6 months for many.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released the results of its 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey - the first large-scale survey of infant feeding practices and attitudes.
Key data include that 35 per cent of infants were introduced to solid foods by 4 months of age and 92 per cent by the recommended age of 6 months.
Breastfeeding was started for 96 per cent of children and, at 4 months, around 69 per cent of infants were still receiving some breast milk. However, only 39 per cent were exclusively breastfed to this point.
Around 60 per cent were still receiving some breast milk at 6 months, but only 15 per cent were exclusively breastfed to this recommended age.
Older and better-educated mums were more likely to breastfeed for longer.
"'Wanting to share feeding responsibilities with their partner' (29 per cent) and 'previously unsuccessful breastfeeding experiences' (38 per cent) were the 2 most common reasons for not breastfeeding,” AIHW spokesperson Mark Cooper-Stanbury said.
"Many women (26 per cent) also felt that formula was just as good as breast milk."
Around 7 per cent of infants drank cow's milk by 6 months, with most not starting until the recommended age of 12 months.
Less than 1 per cent of infants aged one month had consumed soft, semi-solid or solid food, with this figure rising to 35 per cent at 4 months and 92 per cent at 6 months.
"The guidelines also recommend babies be introduced to solid foods at around 6 months," Mr Cooper-Stanbury said.
"Our survey found that around a third of babies were introduced to these foods a little earlier ... indicating there is some more work to be done in this area."
Last Reviewed: 23 December 2011