The benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a natural 'safety net' against the worst effects of poverty ... Exclusive breastfeeding goes a long way toward cancelling out the health difference between being born into poverty and being born into affluence ... It is almost as if breastfeeding takes the infant out of poverty for those first few months in order to give the child a fairer start in life and compensate for the injustice of the world into which it was born.

James P. Grant, Executive Director of UNICEF (1980-1995)
  • Breastfeeding saves lives and protects the health of mothers and babies both in the short and long term. The evidence is well-established, for both the benefits to mother and baby of breastfeeding, and the significant risks of not breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has some of the most wide-reaching and long-lasting effects on a baby’s health and development.
  • Breastfeeding contributes to significant savings to the NHS, with initial investments paying off within just a few years.
  • Prevalence of breastfeeding at 6–8 weeks is a key indicator of child health and wellbeing. The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, and the government aims to increase breastfeeding rates so that they are as high as possible.
  • Evidence-based reports demonstrate the importance of early care, which  breastfeeding can facilitate, on brain development and emotional attachment. A baby’s earliest relationships lay the foundation for later developmental outcomes, from academic performance to mental health and interpersonal skills.
  • Early relationship building is also vital for formula-feeding mothers: support and guidance on how to feed safely and build strong, loving bonds with their baby will promote healthy development and attachment in formula-fed babies.

See how the Baby Friendly Initiative can help you improve breastfeeding rates in your area