Becoming Baby Friendly

The Baby Friendly Initiative, a global programme of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, encourages health services to improve the care provided to mothers and babies so that they are able to start and continue breastfeeding for as long as they wish.

What is the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative?

The Baby Friendly Initiative is a joint WHO and UNICEF global programme which encourages health services to improve the care provided to mothers and babies so that they are able to start and continue breastfeeding for as long as they wish.

Does It Work?

Hospitals which have achieved Baby Friendly accreditation have demonstrated a 10% average increase in the proportion of babies breastfed at birth, and at seven days 28% more babies are still enjoying the health benefits of being breastfed than those born in hospitals that have not been accredited.

How Does a Healthcare Facility Become 'Baby Friendly'?

The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative sets minimum standards for the care of mothers and babies and provides education, materials and support to help health-care facilities to implement these. Once all the standards are in place, facilities can be assessed and accredited as Baby Friendly. Accreditation lasts for two to five years, at which point reassessment is required.

Who Can Apply to Become Baby Friendly ?
  • The Baby Friendly Initiatives can be undertaken by maternity and neonatal units, community public health (health visiting), children's centres or universities.  

  • Ideally, partners will work together in a geographical area  to maximise the impact of the programme.  In particular, it is ideal if health visiting and children's centres work together towards accreditation.

International Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes

The World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in 1981 to protect and promote breastfeeding, through the provision of adequate information on appropriate infant feeding and the regulation of the marketing of breast milk substitutes, bottles and teats. In subsequent years additional resolutions have further defined and strengthened the Code.

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The evidence and rationale for the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative standards is a new publication that brings together all the evidence behind Baby Friendly’s new standards around breastfeeding and relationship-building.