The lives of 95 babies could be saved in the developing world every hour – that's 830,000 a year – if new mothers started breastfeeding their newborns in the "power hour" immediately after the birth.
A report by Save the Children claims that babies would be three times more likely to survive if they received colostrum – the mother's first milk – within an hour of birth, kickstarting the child's immune system.
If the mother continues feeding for the next six months, then a child in the developing world is up to 15 times less likely to die from killer diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, the report says.
Breastfeeding rates are stalling worldwide and falling across East Asia and African countries such as Ethiopia and Nigeria.
The report says the prevalence of traditional practices, as well as a shortage of health workers and inappropriate marketing of baby milk substitute have contributed to problems.
Justin Forsyth, Save the Children chief executive, said: "The world is at tipping point and we could be the generation to stop children dying from preventable disease and malnutrition."