The National Breastfeeding Strategy for Aotearoa has been developed to support the exclusivity and duration of breastfeeding. This will improve the health and wellbeing of infants, young children, breastfeeding parents and whānau, and benefit society as a whole. It is aligned with World Health Organization and Ministry of Health | Manatū Hauora recommendations (World Health Organization 2009).

Global public health recommendations state that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding to age two years and beyond, with nutritionally adequate, safe and age-appropriate complementary feeding starting at around six months of age (World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund 2003).

In New Zealand Aotearoa only between 17 and 22 percent of children are exclusively breastfed to around six months (Ministry of Social Development 2018). Rates of exclusive breastfeeding are consistently lower for Māori and Pacific people.

Achieving ‘optimal infant feeding’ is a complex and multidimensional challenge that requires strong government leadership and coordination, and a holistic, whole-of-system approach.

Improving breastfeeding rates in New Zealand Aotearoa will directly contribute to:

  • achieving equitable health outcomes for Māori
  • improving overall population health outcomes
  • improving maternal and child mental wellbeing
  • reducing health costs through prevention of illness
  • sustainability and waste reduction

The Strategy presents a roadmap to action in two parts, guided by pae ora. The first part outlines the priorities for government to ensure the foundations are set for the actions and outcomes that follow. The second part outlines these actions and outcomes, which will build a solid structure for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding in New Zealand Aotearoa.


Ministry of Social Development. 2018. Infant feeding in New Zealand: Adherence to Food and Nutrition Guidelines among the Growing Up in New Zealand Cohort November 2018. Wellington: Ministry of Social Development.

World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund. 2003. Global strategy for infant and young child feeding. Geneva: World Health Organization.

World Health Organization. 2009. Infant and young child feeding: Model chapter for textbooks for medical students and allied health professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization.