Max Rady College of Medicine

Term: Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)

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Glossary Definition

Last Updated: 2008-06-11


The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), launched in 1991, is an effort by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that all maternities, whether free standing or in a hospital, become centres of breastfeeding support. A maternity facility can be designated "baby-friendly" when it does not accept free or low-cost breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles or teats, and has implemented 10 specific steps to support successful breastfeeding (called the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding). The process is currently controlled by national breastfeeding authorities, using Global Criteria that can be applied to maternity care in every country. Implementation guides for the BFHI have been developed by UNICEF and WHO. The ten steps include:

    1. have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff;
    2. train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy;
    3. inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding;
    4. help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth;
    5. show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants;
    6. give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated;
    7. practice rooming-in, that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day;
    8. encourage breastfeeding on demand;
    9. give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants; and
    10. foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

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  • Martens P, Fransoo R, The Need to Know Team, Burland E, Prior H, Burchill C, Romphf L, Chateau D, Bailly A, Ouelette C. What Works? A First Look at Evaluating Manitoba's Regional Health Programs and Policies at the Population Level. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2008. [Report] [Summary] [Additional Materials] (View)

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Manitoba Centre for Health Policy
Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine,
Rady Faculty of Health Sciences,
Room 408-727 McDermot Ave.
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3E 3P5 Canada