The Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) is a worldwide effort to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
The World Health Organization developed the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding as guidelines for health-care organizations that provide hospital and community health services. BFI promotes a high standard of care in infant feeding.
Hospital and community health services that follow the Ten Steps will help provide the right start for infants and support for mothers who breastfeed.
Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health-care providers and volunteers.
- Ensure all health care providers and volunteers have the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the breastfeeding policy.
- Inform pregnant women and their families about the importance and process of breastfeeding.
- Place babies in uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following birth for at least an hour or until completion of the first feeding or as long as the mother wishes: encourage mothers to recognize when their babies are ready to feed, offering help as needed.
- Assist mothers to breastfeed and maintain lactation should they face challenges, including separation from their infants.
- Support mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, unless supplements are medically indicated.
- Facilitate 24 hour rooming-in for all mother-infant dyads (pairs) : mothers and infants remain together.
- Encourage responsive baby-led or cue-based breastfeeding. Encourage sustained breastfeeding beyond six months with 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).
- Provide a seamless transition between the services provided by the hospital, community health services and peer support programs. Apply principles of Primary Health Care and Population Health to support the continuum of care and implement strategies that affect the broad determinants that will improve breastfeeding outcomes.
In addition to the Ten Steps, the Baby Friendly Initiative also encourages hospital and community health services to follow the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. The code recommends regulations for marketing breast milk substitutes.
The aim of the code is to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by protecting and promoting breastfeeding. The code also recommends the informed use of breast milk substitutes, when necessary, and appropriate marketing and distribution.