Note: Following further validation, a couple of changes were needed which meant some findings previously reported in the Infant Feeding Survey 2010: Early Results publication were reported as significant and are now not significant. These related to findings from Tables 4 and 5. These have been corrected in this report, which supersedes those findings from the Early Results.
The Infant Feeding Survey (IFS) has been conducted every five years since 1975. The 2010 IFS was the eighth national survey of infant feeding practices to be conducted. The main aim of the survey was to provide estimates on the incidence, prevalence, and duration of breastfeeding and other feeding practices adopted by mothers in the first eight to ten months after their baby was born.
The survey is based on an initial representative sample of mothers who were selected from all births registered during August and October 2010 in the UK. Three stages of data collection were conducted with Stage 1 being carried out when babies were around four to ten weeks old, Stage 2 when they were around four to six months old, and Stage 3 when they were around eight to ten months old. A total of 10,768 mothers completed and returned all three questionnaires.
A number of new questions were added to the survey in 2010, covering a range of topics including the Healthy Start scheme (a means-tested voucher scheme for pregnant women or mothers with children under 4 years old to help with basic food items), how mothers who had multiple births fed their babies, whether babies were full term or premature, as well as further exploration of the types of problems mothers may have experienced while breastfeeding.
In addition to the main findings covered in this summary, the findings of logistic regression analysis to help understand the impact of various demographic characteristics and other factors on breastfeeding initiation and prevalence at two and six weeks (based on full term babies) can be found in the Appendices.
Mothers are continuing to breastfeed for longer with initiation and prevalence rates showing increases over the last twenty years in the UK. Breastfeeding initiation was higher for babies exposed to early skin-to-skin contact and among mothers from certain demographic groups. However, the proportion of mothers following current guidelines on exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life have remained low since 2005 with only one in a hundred mothers following these guidelines. In terms of formula feeding, there has been a considerable increase in the proportion of mothers following recommended guidelines on making up feeds. Mothers are also introducing solids later.