Breastfeeding: Strong mums, strong babies

Healthy Eating Guideline

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended, with positive support, for babies until around 6 months. Continued breastfeeding is recommended to at least 12 months – and longer if the mother
and baby wish.

Breastmilk is the best food for baby

  • Mum should be supported to breastfeed baby for 12 months if she can.
  • Mum can breastfeed baby for longer if both mum and baby are happy.
  • Until around 6 months, breastmilk is the only food or drink baby needs.
  • Baby can eat solid food from around 6 months.
  • Even when eating solid food, baby still needs breastmilk or formula until 12 months.
  • Mum should be encouraged not to drink alcohol while breastfeeding and keep baby away from cigarette smoke.

Why is breastfeeding so good?

  • It helps to keep baby healthy and strong.
  • Breastmilk has the right nutrients for baby at each stage of development.
  • Breastmilk can help to protect young babies from getting gastro-intestinal infections and middle ear infections, and from becoming overweight or obese later in life.
  • The sucking actions of breastfeeding help baby’s jaw prepare for teeth and speech.
  • It keeps mum healthy and strong.
  • It gives mum and baby time to be close.
  • Breastmilk is free – it saves money and time for families.

Expressed breastmilk

Sometimes mothers will express breastmilk and bring it to the early childhood service for baby’s feeds. If a mum needs help with expressing milk she can talk to the local health worker or child health nurse.
Top of page

Storage of breastmilk

  • Breastmilk should be stored in sterilised bottles or containers.
  • Label the bottle or container with baby’s name and the date that the breastmilk should be used.
  • Put bottles on a non-spill tray at the back of the lowest shelf of the fridge so it doesn’t spill onto other food.
  • If breastmilk is not used on the same day, give it back to parents or throw it out.
  • Baby should only drink breastmilk that has come from their own mum.

Cleaning bottles and teats

  • Wash bottles and teats in warm soapy water and rinse off detergent and bubbles.
  • Bottles need to be sterilised or disinfected to make sure they don’t carry infections.
  • You can sterilise bottles using the boiling method.
  • It is important to follow the instructions of the method you choose.

Heating breastmilk

  • Heat the milk by standing the bottle in warm water.
  • Shake the bottle well to make sure the heat is spread evenly.
  • Always check the temperature of milk before giving it to baby by testing a few drops on unbroken skin on the inside of your wrist. Milk should feel warm, not hot.
  • Do not use a microwave to heat up milk as it makes the milk very hot and can burn baby's mouth.
  • Throw out leftover milk – do not reheat or keep for later.

Giving babies breastmilk from the fridge

  • Babies can drink breastmilk straight from the fridge.
  • If more than 1 baby is receiving breastmilk, 2 staff members need to check that the name on the bottle is the name of the baby being fed.
  • Sign baby’s feeding record.
  • Give the breastmilk to baby in the sterilised cup or bottle provided by the parents.
  • Most babies can use a cup from 6 months old.
  • If baby is given the milk of another mother or if you think this might have happened, tell your director or manager straight away.

Supporting mums who are breastfeeding

  • Provide breastfeeding mums with information on how they can continue to breastfeed their baby when they are apart.
  • Seeing another mum breastfeed also encourages new mums. If you are breastfeeding or have breastfed your baby, let new parents know.
  • If a mum has chosen not to breastfeed, always respect her decision.

What else can I do?

  • Tell breastfeeding mums they are doing a great job.
  • Make mums feel welcome to breastfeed at your centre.
  • Offer support and information to the family – it’s normal for breastfeeding mums to need some help and advice.
  • If parents need more information, refer them to a health worker or the FREE Australian Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 mum 2 mum or 1800 686 268 or the website.