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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.a)      Comply with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions.

1.b)      Have a written Infant Feeding Policy that is routinely communicated to all staff, pregnant women/persons and parents.

1.c)      Establish ongoing BFI monitoring and data-management systems.

2.         Ensure that staff have the competencies (knowledge, attitudes and skills) necessary to support mothers/birthing parents to meet their infant feeding goals.

3.         Discuss the importance and process of breastfeeding with pregnant women/persons and their families.

4.         Facilitate immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact at birth. Support mothers/birthing parents to respond to the infant’s cues to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.

5.         Support mothers/parents to initiate and maintain breastfeeding and manage common difficulties.

6.         Support mothers/parents to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, unless supplements are medically indicated.

7.         Promote and support mother-infant togetherness.

8.         Encourage responsive, cue-based feeding for infants. Encourage sustained breastfeeding beyond six months with appropriate introduction of complementary foods.

9.         Discuss the use and effects of feeding bottles, artificial nipples and pacifiers with parents.

10.       Provide a seamless transition between the services provided by the hospital, community health services and peer-support programs.

Baby-Friendly Initiative Ontario

Breastfeeding Committee of Canada English / Francais

Supporting Mothers andBabies: Understanding Breastfeeding and the Baby-Friendly Initiative


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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