What is the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative?

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global effort to improve the care of pregnant women, mothers and infants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Surgeon General, American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other health care groups are encouraging hospitals to become Baby-Friendly. Three Penn Medicine hospitals now have this designation: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital and Lancaster General Hospital.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is about making sure that all mothers have the information they need to make the best decisions about infant feeding and the help they need to meet their feeding goals.

What are the Ten Steps of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative?

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are research-based practices that have been shown to help mothers and babies get off to a good start with breastfeeding. Hospitals working toward Baby-Friendly designation must follow the Ten Steps:

  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 benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice “rooming in” which allows mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours/day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
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