Breast is best!

The Department of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old. Some mums will need advice and support when trying to achieve this

Breast milk is a fantastic source of nutrition for babies. In fact, it is undoubtedly the best source available, giving babies everything they need for growth and development. Both the Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life.

According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, around 80 per cent of new mothers start breastfeeding. The latest statistics from Public Health England for 2016-17 reveal that 44.5 per cent of babies were being totally or partially breastfed at six to eight weeks after birth – a slight increase on previous years at 43.2 per cent in 2015-16 and 43.8 per cent in 2014-15.

Of the 44.5 per cent of babies who were breastfed at six weeks of age, 30.0 per cent were exclusively breastfed and 14.4 per cent partially breastfed. 43.8 per cent of infants were not breastfed at all at this stage.

Among babies born in Scotland in 2016-17, 63 per cent had been breastfed for at least some time after birth, and 41 per cent were being breastfed at six to eight weeks of age, according to NHS National Services Scotland.

Some 44.5 per cent of babies in England are totally or partially breastfed at six to eight weeks after birth

It is clear from these findings that healthcare professionals (HCPs) should be aware of the benefits of breastfeeding to help support and encourage mums who wish to breastfeed their babies. It is also important to be aware of the reasons why some mums don’t breastfeed, as well as the other options that are available, including combination feeding and bottle feeding.

Useful websites

Mums should be encouraged to breastfeed for as long as possible. Information, advice and support to help them do this are available via:


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