“What if governments had a proven, cost-effective way to save babies’ lives, reduce rates of malnutrition, support children’s health, increase educational attainment and grow productivity?

They do: It’s called breastfeeding. And it is one of the best investments nations can make in the lives and futures of their youngest members – and in the long-term strength of their societies.”

– Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director

Breastfeeding: A smart investment

Breastfeeding is a vital part of providing every child with the healthiest start to life. It is a baby’s first vaccine and the best source of nutrition. It can bolster brain development. It can save 520,000 children’s lives in the next 10 years.

Breastfeeding also nurtures national economies. Increased rates of breastfeeding can improve a country’s prosperity by lowering healthcare costs and producing stronger, more able workforces.

But breastfeeding is not just a one woman job. It requires encouragement and support from skilled counsellors, family members, health care providers, employers, policymakers and others.

To make the most of the value of breastfeeding for children and nations, governments and donors need to act together. By investing US$570 million a year for the next 10 years, governments, donors and partners can help raise the rate of exclusive breastfeeding to at least 50 per cent.

Read more about the importance of investing in breastfeeding.

Infographic: Improved rates of breastfeedng lead to...

World Breastfeeding Week

This year from August 1–7, World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF will join its partners in the new Global Breastfeeding Collective to highlight the importance of breastfeeding for children and nations. A partnership of non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and donors led by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Collective was formed to accelerate progress towards international breastfeeding targets.

The targets, set by the World Health Assembly, call for at least a 50 per cent rate of exclusive breastfeeding by 2025. The Collective’s mission is to rally political, legal, financial and public support for breastfeeding, which will benefit mothers, children and society.

Countries meeting adequate standards of breastfeeding: none 

>> Read more about the Global Breastfeeding Collective

>> Have a look at the global scorecard for breastfeeding progress

The Global Breastfeeding Collective has developed a country scorecard to track progress on seven policy actions and on the state of breastfeeding practices within countries. Each action has a progress indicator and target – to be met by 2030 – which serve as a call for action for policymakers worldwide to make breastfeeding support a collective national priority.

Explore more information, including the country by country profiles, of the Global Scorecard.

As part of the Global Breastfeeding Collective, UNICEF joins the call for increased financing and better implementation of policies, programmes and interventions to provide mothers the support they need to breastfeed.

Governments can take seven actions to drive progress on breastfeeding and raise the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding to at least 50 per cent by 2025:

More info about investing in breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a smart investment – in the health of children and the wealth of nations.

Investing in breastfeeding can save children's lives