History of The Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge

Baby Photos Header for Challenge Pages

In 2000, a Quintessence board member, Wah Wong suggested that the Quintessence Foundation sponsor a “latch on”. He had heard about a similar event held in Australia in 1999 when 536 children “latched on” at the same time in the same location. With some reservations, the Board agreed and in 2001 the first Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge was held. The sites were restricted to British Columbia, the most western province in Canada and the response was excellent with 856 children breastfeeding at 26 sites throughout the province. This first Challenge was done under the rules of the Guinness World Record with the goal being to try and have the most women at one site. Our application to Guinness for a multi site simultaneous category was refused and upon reflection it was decided to design our own rules to count every child breastfeeding at 11am local time at every registered site.

In 2002 we opened registration to any participant in Canada and in 2003 the United States was included. In subsequent years registration has included mothers from anywhere in the world. Each year the numbers have gradually grown. With no advertising budget, word has spread via the internet and word of mouth. Sites have varied widely to meet the needs of the community in which they were located. Some have been large groups at malls, government building and parks. Others have been small groups in homes, public health offices, WIC offices and midwives/doctors offices and hospitals including NICUs.

The Quintessence Challenge occurs in the fall during or close to when Canada celebrates World Breastfeeding Week in the first week of October. The date selected was usually the first Saturday in October. In 2019, we have shifted to including any site that registers and holds a Challenge event during the first week of October. This was based on feedback we received from across Canada.

This event has encouraged community discussion about issues related to breastfeeding and donor milk banking. It has provided a focus for health promotion around human milk and the importance of breastfeeding and the key role it plays in the health of a community.


“Latch ons” Around the World

In 2002, a large group in Berkley California challenged the Australian record and set a new world record of 1,130 children breastfeeding simultaneously at one site. This world record stood until 2006 when the Philippines set a new record of 3,738 children breastfeeding simultaneously at one site. The Philippines held a second challenge in 2007 with 590 sites and 22,500+ children (22,500 mothers) breastfeeding simultaneously at the same local time at multiple sites. The organizers of this massive 2007 event, the Children for Breastfeeding and the Nurturers of the Earth in partnership with WABA, explained that "these events were organized because at the time, US lobbyists and businesses were trying were trying to get the Department of Health to water down breastfeeding advocates efforts to strengthen the laws that protect breastfeeding. The battle with the companies reached the Supreme Court and the halls of the Philippine Senate and Congress in public hearings." This was certainly an impressive effort!

A number of countries hold a “latch on” every year usually with multiple sites with mothers “latching” their babies at the same local time. New Zealand started holding a “latch on” in 2002 and has noted increased numbers with 1111 children breastfeeding at 10am local time on August 1, 2008.

France began holding a “latch on” called Le Grand Tétéé in 2006 and in 2007 had 1,360 children “latched on” at 36 sites through out France on the same day at the same time ( www.grandtetee.com/).

In 2007 Quintessence Foundation and the organizers in France and the Philippines began discussing working together and agreed to hold a global challenge on the same day - October 11, 2008. In 2009 and again for 2010, it has not been possible to hold a joint "latch on" due to conflicting holidays and other events. But, we all have the same common goal as Nona Andaya-Castillo, a key breastfeeding organizer in the Philippines puts it, "This is not a competition among nations, rather it is a global effort to save children's lives." The Philippines has carried on holding events with an impressive number of mothers in attendance. In 2018, the "latch on" event in Manila had 1500 moms with 62 additional sites.

The Picture in Numbers: number of children breastfeeding at number of sites at the same local time

Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge
Le Grand
New Zealand
536 at 1 site
26 sites
47 sites
134 sites
141 sites
42 sites
143 sites
654 at multiple sites
155 sites
1 site
225 sites
36 sites
156 sites
937 at multiple sites
300 sites
1111 at multiple sites
246 sites*
70+ sites
1,299 at multiple sites
213 sites

*The Picture in Numbers: number of children breastfeeding at number of sites at the same local time

Records: Largest Number of children latched on at the same time at the same Site

 US: Cailfornia
 Philippines: Manila

Records: Largest Numbers of children latched on at the same time local time at multiple sites:

 Quintessence Foundation (Canada)
 Quintessence Foundation ( Canada & US)
 Quintessence Foundation ( Canada & US)

Why hold a “Latch On’

In most countries a “latch on” event is held to increase public awareness of the importance of breastfeeding.

The group in the Philippines (Children for Breastfeeding Philippines) who have organized record breaking events wish to educate mothers en masse on the benefits of breastfeeding and create public pressure against milk companies and US officials who move to suppress advocates and the Philippine health officials...

In France, le GrandTétéé is held to educate families and the public about the myths of breastfeeding - to help women succeed with their goals in feeding their children.

In New Zealand the promoters refer to low breastfeeding rates and the need to build mothers confidence.

Quintessence Foundation holds the Challenge to provide support for breastfeeding women. Breastfeeding has many well-documented benefits including better health for both mothers and babies. However, many women fail to meet their own breastfeeding goals and wean their children prematurely, well before meeting the recommended guidelines. Two of the biggest hurdles for mothers continue to be lack of support and marginalization by the community. The Challenge strives to increase public awareness of the normalacy of breastfeeding, the benefits to mother, child and community and the ways in which women need support to achieve the recommended duration for breastfeeding.

Who Really wins?

The numbers and the ratings of who “wins” breastfeeding events like the Challenge doesn't tell the real story. Obviously in countries with higher birth rates and larger populations, it is easier to get larger numbers of breastfeeding mothers and children at an event like a “latch on”. The real success with events like the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge is that every baby who is breasted and every mother who breastfeeds “wins”. Breastfeeding provides benefits that last a lifetime.

Unfortunately in our current global world, breastfeeding is needing strong support. Women need skilled help to support the initiation and continuing breastfeeding. Communities need education about how to support breastfeeding women. Businesses need information about how they can support and enable continuing breastfeeding. Governments need encouragement to adopt programs that enable women to continue breastfeeding. The expert recommendations are for exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months with human milk to remain in the diet for two years and beyond. The global average for weaning ( terminating breastfeeding) is said to be age four. In many countries in the world the weaning age is often more like four weeks. Many women are frustrated by the lack of support they experience when they try to do what they know is best for their children. Hopefully with events like the Quintessence Challenge the understanding of why breastfeeding is important and the support promotion and protection of breastfeeding will increase world wide at which time “latch ons” will not be needed.