What is a Baby Friendly Hopsital?

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Baby-Friendly Hospital InitiativeIn 1999, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative which recognized that breastfeeding can be a challenging experience, especially for new mothers.  These organizations established ten guidelines for hospitals to meet in order to earn a Baby-Friendly certification.  Below is the list of these ten guidelines.


  • Creating a written breastfeeding policy and routinely communicating it to all health staff
  • Providing training to help staff successfully implement the policy
  • Informing pregnant women about breastfeeding benefits
  • Helping mothers through their first breastfeeding within thirty minutes of childbirth
  • Educating mothers about the breastfeeding process and how to maintain lactation, including how to maintain milk supply if the mother returns to work
  • Refusing food other than breast milk initially for the baby
  • Allowing mothers and infants to be together for 24 hours of the day
  • Promoting the breastfeeding on demand philosophy
  • Prohibiting artificial teats and pacifiers for the baby
  • Referring mothers to breastfeeding support groups upon hospital discharge

Not all hospitals encourage breastfeeding equally. Some hospitals may separate a mother and baby immediately after birth, which can impede the bonding process. Many studies indicate that breastfeeding soon after birth is extremely beneficial and important for the baby’s emotional and physical health. Other hospitals may encourage newborns to latch with sugar water, which can hinder the baby latching properly at home. Likewise, a baby immediately introduced to a bottle or pacifier may also have trouble properly latching to the breast, making breast feeding difficult for both mother and baby.


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Sometimes, a woman can experience problems in milk supply and helping her baby achieve the proper latch. Breast refusal and blocked ducts are common problems that can be remedied with the help of knowledgeable staff. Baby-friendly hospitals ensure that each mother receives the personal attention she needs to solve these problems, bond with her baby, and enjoy the breastfeeding process.

In short, baby-friendly hospitals promote breastfeeding by creating a supportive environment for both mother and baby. These hospitals pledge to provide information and resources to assist mothers in achieving healthy breastfeeding practices. Many baby-friendly hospitals will provide a team of health care professionals, including lactation consultants, to educate and assist a mother through the breastfeeding process.

To read more about the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative visit:







Photo Kathryn FooterKathryn is a baby-wearing, cloth diapering, DIY mom to her quickly growing and pretty cute toddler.  When she isn't researching and writing about natural approaches to pregnancy and parenting, she's acting out her favorite children's books or singing off-key made-up songs.