A new Queensland study has found that the ‘baby of the family’ is more likely to be bottle fed, even when mothers have breastfed older children in the same family.

University of Queensland School of Public Health PhD candidate ­Natalie Holowko is researching the link between socio-economic factors, birth order and breastfeeding rates.

“Breastfeeding reduces a child’s risk of being overweight or obese, making it one of the first lines of defence against the emerging obesity epidemic,” Natalie said. “Breastfeeding was started with 83 per cent of newborns, but only 59 per cent of six-month-olds were still being breastfed.”

The study analysed 4700 mothers as part of an Australian longitudinal study conducted over 20 years, also found that university-educated women were almost twice as likely to initiate breastfeeding as opposed to women with a high-school education.  

“Interestingly, women with a parent who had fewer than 10 years of education were about one-and-a-half times as likely to not breastfeed,” Natalie said. However, there appears to be a complete turn around for the “baby of the family”.

“We discovered that women – particularly those with a higher level of education – were less likely to breastfeed their youngest child,” she said. “This may suggest that women are returning to work soon after reaching their desired number of children.”

The study also found that the number of children a woman had also influenced breastfeeding, with results showing that firstborns are more likely to be breastfed if their mothers went on to have more ­children.

The current Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months and continued breastfeeding up to 12 months and beyond.

Image source: Getty Images

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  • both of mine were… does that mean they both are babies of the family!?


  • Doesn’t surprise me – you have so many extra demands for (say) baby three compared to baby one.


  • It’s hard work breast feeding but so worth it for baby


  • That’s interesting. I actually breastfed longer with each child and the longest for the baby of tthe family!


  • It is not only bottle fed babies who are overweight. I know a Mum who breastfed all of her babies including the last one. They were all really fat while being breastfed until they had been running around for awhile. They all played a lot of sport. The youngest didn’t lose the weight he needed to until she was 6 years old. They all eat the same food. No junk at all. The elder two are now really slim even though they eat well, a balanced healthy diet of fruit, vegetables and meat. They play a lot of sport most days which the youngest isn’t able to join yet.


  • How very interesting! And slightly confusing… When the mother reaches the desired number of children, she leaves them? lol. Seems a bit iffy to me. :P I had my tubes tied after my last baby, and knowing that he’s my last makes me terribly sad, and nostalgic for pregnancy and all the awful stuff that entails. Perhaps it’s different for me, being aware of my inability to have more, but I’ve breastfed him for over a year now, and will continue to do so for as long as humanly possible! I’ve started back at Uni now, which makes it a lot more difficult, I’ll be honest, but I still do whatever I can to ensure that when I am there, we have the same breastfeeding relationship, or as close as possible to, that we always did. Not bragging or anything, this stuff is damned hard, and I’ll admit, I’ve had many snags along the way which made me almost throw my hands in the air and quit, but I do find it a little hard to believe that the logic of ‘they’ve completed their family so returned to work quickly’ is correct. Just doesn’t quite wash with me. Everyone I know who had to return to work after their bub, tried expressing or went home for lunch whenever possible, to nurse. It’s hard, but totally do-able. Ok, rant over. Lol.


  • Lke it


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