Background: Australia has high rates of breastfeeding initiation, with a consistent decline over the first year. Furthermore, there is a growing trend of maternal employment and rising numbers of children enrolled in different types of child care services, both of which can have a negative impact on breastfeeding. Objectives: To provide evidence to better inform implementation of breastfeeding-friendly strategies in child care settings, this study examined breastfeeding policy and practice in child care centers in metropolitan Adelaide. Methods: The paper reports on a survey sent to 292 child care centers in metropolitan Adelaide in 2010. The survey collected information on center location and type, number of enrolled children under age 2, and number of breastfed babies. The survey also included questions about breastfeeding facilities and support, breastfeeding policies, staff training, and barriers to and recommendations to enhance breastfeeding support in child care centers. Results: Of the 62 completed returned surveys (21% response rate), 43 centers (69.4%) reported that they currently have children who receive breast milk at the center; however, in most centers, the total number of breastfed children was reported to be between 1 and 4; 76% reported that the center was supportive of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months; and 80.6% had statements on breastfeeding as part of their food and nutrition policies or guidelines. Furthermore, 64.5% reported there was no formal or informal training for staff on breastfeeding support, but 50% reported that staff members do provide breastfeeding advice to mothers of children in their center. Conclusions: Despite some strategies in place to support breastfeeding, there are no standards on breastfeeding policies, practices, and training in child care settings. Therefore, the extent and scope of such support depend on parental request and the perceptions and attitudes of child care center staff toward breastfeeding.
- policy and practice