Latest stories

Press releases & statements


On Mother’s Day, the best gift for both mother and baby is breastfeeding, says UNICEF

© UNICEF Pacific/2016/Sokhin

SUVA, 11 May 2018 – On Mother’s Day, and on every day, the best gift for both mother and baby is breastfeeding, says UNICEF. In the Pacific islands, breastfeeding rates remain high with almost all babies breastfed at least once, although this number reduces by the time a child turns two years old, the recommended age to continue breastfeeding.


“As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we must continue to give Pacific mothers the support they need to breastfeed; it is the best gift for both mother and baby. Breastfeeding saves lives, protects babies and mothers against deadly diseases, and leads to better brain development and educational outcomes as the child grows,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett.


Despite the high rates of breastfeeding in many countries in the Pacific islands, ranging from 83 per cent in Kiribati to 98 per cent in Solomon Islands, these rates continue to drop up until two years of age.* In the Republic of Marshall Islands and Tonga, only one in three children is breastfed until two years of age, with rates of 34 percent and 30 per cent respectively.

Exclusive feeding of breastmilk is the only food a child needs to be healthy and protected up to six months old. When a baby is six months old, it is best to continue breastfeeding until the child is two years old but to also add healthy foods such as rice, taro, breadfruit, fish, meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables.


Through its global campaign, Every Child ALIVE, which demands solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns, UNICEF urges governments, the private sector and civil society to:


  • Increase funding and awareness to raise breastfeeding rates from birth through the age of two.
  • Put in place strong legal measures to regulate the marketing of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes as well as bottles and teats. 
  • Enact paid family leave and put in place workplace breastfeeding policies, including paid breastfeeding breaks.
  • Implement the ten steps to successful breastfeeding in maternity facilities, and provide breastmilk for sick newborns.
  • Ensure that mothers receive skilled breastfeeding counselling at health facilities and in the first week after delivery.
  • Strengthen links between health facilities and communities, so that mothers are ensured of continued support for breastfeeding.
  • Improve monitoring systems to track improvements in breastfeeding policies, programmes and practices.
  • On Mother’s Day, recognized in May in over 128 countries, including all 14 countries where UNICEF works in the Pacific, Every Child ALIVE is celebrating mothers and babies and their right to be supported through pregnancy, delivery and birth.

Notes to Editors:


Download the report and Pacific multimedia here:



*In the Pacific, based on DHS surveys, rates for babies being breastfed at least once include: Solomon Islands (98%), Fiji (95%), Nauru (95%), Vanuatu (95%), Samoa (94%), Tonga (91%), RMI (87%), Kiribati (83%)




UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.orgLearn about the Every Child ALIVE campaign

Follow UNICEF Pacific on Twitter and Facebook


For more information, please contact:


Cate Heinrich,, +679 9925 606




 Email this article

unite for children