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The Baby-Friendly Initiative is a global initiative created by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in response to low rates of breastfeeding and infant mortality. It protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding by supporting the implementation of best practices related to feeding babies. The expected outcomes are increased rates of breastfeeding, including exclusivity and duration, and safe and nurturing infant/child feeding practices by all families.

The Baby-Friendly Initiative provides best practice guidelines for facilities providing maternal newborn care (e.g. hospitals, health units, community health centres) and formal recognition of those who implement these guidelines.

It is called the Baby-Friendly Initiative because it supports health outcomes for all babies.

To be designated as ‘Baby-Friendly’ one must demonstrate the implementation of the ‘Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding’ and compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.

1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff and volunteers.

2. Train all health care providers in the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the breastfeeding policy.

3. Inform pregnant women and their families about the importance and process of breastfeeding.

4. Place babies in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following birth for at least an hour, until completion of the first feeding, or as long as the mother wishes.

5. Encourage mothers to recognize when their babies are ready to feed, offering help as needed.

6. Help mothers to breastfeed and maintain lactation should they face challenges including separation from their infants. Infants are not offered food or drink other than human milk for the first six months, unless medically indicated.

7. Facilitate 24-hour rooming-in for all mothers and infants.

8. Encourage baby-led or cue-based breastfeeding.

9. Encourage sustained breastfeeding beyond six months with the appropriate introduction of complementary foods. Support mothers to feed and care for their breastfeeding babies without the use of artificial teats or pacifiers (dummies or soothers).

10. Provide a seamless transition between the services provided by the hospital, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, community partner organizations and peer support programs.

Visit:
Supporting Mothers and Babies: Understanding Breastfeeding and the Baby-Friendly Initiative

Review:

Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding: A Practical Workbook for Community-Based Programs


There are clinical resources, patient resources, professional development opportunities and a listing of breastfeeding program and services to assist health professionals in supporting breastfeeding patients and their families.

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