The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global initiative launched by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1991.
The goal is to improve the nutrition of infants and young children through the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.
It was introduced into Australia in 1992 and is administered by the Australian College of Midwives (ACM). BFHI aims to give every baby the best start in life by creating a health care environment where breastfeeding is accepted as the biologically normal way to feed an infant.
In Australia in 2006, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative became the Baby Friendly Health Initiative in order to more accurately reflect the expansion of the initiative into the community health settings.
The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in Hospitals and the 7 Point Plan for Community Services are the global standards by which health services are assessed and accredited as 'Baby Friendly' and form the foundation of BFHI. A 'Baby Friendly' health service is one where mothers' informed choice of feeding is supported, respected and encouraged and benefits all mothers regardless of how they decide to feed.
Implementation of the ten steps ensures health professionals, who have contact with women antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum, give breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully breastfeed their babies. To do this the health professional needs to provide appropriate and correct information plus demonstrate a thorough practical knowledge of current breastfeeding management. All health professionals should check and follow local procedures to ensure the correct implementation of the ten steps plan in their organisation.