A Comparison of Breastfeeding Rates by Country

Ever wonder how breastfeeding rates compare from country to country? Following are graphics showing breastfeeding rates in Australia, Canada, Sweden, the UK, and the US from 2004-2009. Click on the graphic to see a larger version.

For each country, I charted the year for which the most recent data was available. I’ll be happy to add graphics for additional countries if you provide me with a link to the breastfeeding data in the comments.

A little explanation of the numbers here…

  • Any Breastmilk” – Baby receives any amount of breastmilk. This could be anything between exclusive breastfeeding and being put to the breast once. Baby may be receiving other foods or liquids.
  • Complementary Breastmilk” – Baby receives both breastmilk and other foods/liquids (which could include formula, juice, solid foods, teas, water, etc.).
  • Exclusive Breastmilk” – Baby receives breastmilk only – no water, tea, formula, juice, cereal, solid foods, etc. Baby can receive drops and syrups (vitamins, minerals and medicines) and still be considered exclusively breastfed. Most babies are ready to start solid foods around 6 months of age, so the extent of exclusive breastfeeding is not often measured past 6 months.
  • Breastmilk includes the mother’s own milk (either at the breast or expressed) and/or another mother’s milk (including banked milk, other donor milk, or wet nursing)

5/26/12 Update: Graphics added for Ireland and Norway.























Breastfeeding: The Numbers – Breastfeeding rates in the United States and worldwide

Infant and young child feeding by country from UNICEF’s ChildInfo.org



Growing Up In Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, Annual Report 2006-07. Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) 2008.

Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010 – 2015.


Statistics Canada: Breastfeeding practises by province and territory.

Breastfeeding Rates and Hospital Breastfeeding Practices in Canada: A National Survey of Women. Chalmers B, et al. Birth. 2009 Jun;36(2):122-32.


The National Infant Feeding Survey 2008, prepared for the Health Service Executive, Ireland.

Norway (data compiled by Magni Onsoien):

Rapport: Spedkost 6 måneder (1998). Helsedirektoratet.

Rapport: Spedkost 12 måneder (1999). Helsedirektoratet.

Rapport: Spedkost 6 måneder (2008). Helsedirektoratet.

Rapport: Småbarnskost 2-åringer (2009). Helsedirektoratet.


Amning av barn födda 2004. Centre for Epidemiology at the National Board of Health and Welfare, Official Statistics of Sweden.

Amning och föräldrars rökvanor – Barn födda 2009. Centre for Epidemiology at the National Board of Health and Welfare, Official Statistics of Sweden.

United Kingdom:

NHS Infant Feeding Survey 2005.

NHS Infant Feeding Survey 2010: Early Results.

United States:

Breastfeeding Among U.S. Children Born 2000—2008, CDC National Immunization Survey.


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