Until the 1960's babies were breastfed by their mother or a wet nurse. Infant formula (also known as artificial baby milk or a breastmilk substitute) was designed for emergency use when a baby was abandoned or following a mother's death.
Breastfeeding is the foundation for optimum nutrition from birth however this message has been eroded over the years, and breastfeeding is no longer the natural choice of all women.
The bottle-feeding culture is largely perceived as the cultural norm in New Zealand. For many women breastfeeding is only viewed as acceptable for a short period postnatally, but beyond this bottle-feeding is normal.
In the past maternity hospitals have reinforced this culture by making bottles available in wards, and by the eagerness with which some staff would recommend to bottle-feed babies in hospitals so as not to wake the mother. The prevalence of marketing infant formula and the limited promotion of breastfeeding in New Zealand also contribute to the normalisation of a bottle-feeding culture.