What the heck is The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative?


If you are expecting, or you have come across this blog, you’ve probably heard of The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI). This sounds a little funny, because you would think all hospitals, birth centers, etc. would be baby friendly–since you know they cater to babies. However that is not the case. The Baby Friendly Initiative started in 1991 in response to The Innocenti Declaration on Breastfeeding a year prior, but what does it actually entail?

Yes, The Baby Friendly Initiative started in response to Breastfeeding promotion, but you don’t need to Breastfeed or have any plan to initiate to reap the same benefits. Baby friendly may focus on infant feeding, but it also focuses on a variety of other topics. Such as, fostering bonding between the postpartum person and the newborn, ensuring the mother the opportunity to make informed healthcare decisions, helping protect the mother from misleading information during her stay at the hospital, and much more.

The way they do this is my promoting certain practices that hospitals that are not considered Baby Friendly may not offer; here are some examples:

  1. Rooming in–this is where the mother and baby are allowed to stay together 24 hours a day.
  2. Supporting skin to skin–right after delivery the baby is placed on the mother’s bare chest.
  3. Avoiding artificial nipples- to help foster the breastfeeding relationship
  4. Avoiding supplementation- unless medically needed
  5. Breastfeeding support- latching on within the first hour, and how to maintain lactation

The Baby Friendly Initiative implements what is considered “best practice” in Maternal and Infant Care, even if you do not plan to breastfeed and solely formula feed- they offer encouragement and help with formula preparation as well.

Find a Baby Friendly Hospital in your area click here.

Sources: babyfriendlyusa

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