Breastfeeding is the best start in life for any child. Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding is essential to maternal and child health, as well as key to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals.
The WHO recommends that mothers begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth and exclusively breastfeed for an infant’s first 6 months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Also, timely introduction of complementary foods should occur after 6 months of age and breastfeeding should continue until 2 years of age or beyond.
The WHO European Region has one of the lowest exclusive breastfeeding rates of all WHO regions, with only 13% of infants exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. Countries expressed their commitment to improving breastfeeding levels in the Region and requested support to do so. The NCD Office assists Member States in developing and promoting breastfeeding policies, including through:
- intensify the implementation of the Baby Friendly Hospitals initiative
- strengthen the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes
- improving health literacy and monitoring breastfeeding practices.