What is a Baby Friendly Hospital?

Baby Friendly Hospital


In April , Mayor Bloomberg announced that the New York City (NYC) Health Department would launch an initiative to encourage city hospitals to be baby friendly. In May, New York City Health Commissioner, Thomas Farley, announced the launch of the citywide initiative, “Latch On NYC.” at Harlem Hospital, the city’s first Baby Friendly Hospital.


NYC is asking maternity hospitals to voluntarily limit the promotion of infant formula because it can interfere with breastfeeding. Eleven public hospitals and 12 private hospitals have signed on. NYC will also roll out a subway and hospital poster campaign aimed at showing the benefits of breastfeeding. In NYC, 90% of mothers breastfeed, but only 31% are exclusively doing so by three months.


On June 28, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed House Bill 4968, which calls on every hospital that provides birthing services to “adopt an infant feeding policy to promote breastfeeding.” The bill asks hospitals to consider guidance from the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in developing their policies.




The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is a worldwide program launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding. Over 19,000 maternity facilities internationally have received the Baby-Friendly Award. As of May 2012, 143 US hospitals and birth centers are designated as Baby Friendly.


In order to be designated as Baby Friendly, a hospital or birth center must follow The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.




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 the benefits and management of breastfeeding.


4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.


5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.


6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.


7. Practice “rooming-in” — allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a 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.



An article published in the July 1st edition of Pediatrics found that two-thirds of mothers who intend to exclusively breastfeed are not meeting their goals. More than 85% of mothers intend to exclusively breastfeed for three months or more and only 32.4% do so. The study, “Baby-Friendly Hospital Practices and Meeting Exclusive Breastfeeding Intention,” found that beginning breastfeeding within one hour of birth, and not giving supplemental feedings or pacifiers were associated with achieving  the exclusive breastfeeding intention.


The study concludes that increased Baby-Friendly Hospital practices, particularly giving only breast milk in the hospital, may help more women to achieve their exclusive breastfeeding goals. In “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk,” the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all women exclusively breastfeed for six months.




Peggy O’Mara  (101 Posts)Peggy O’Mara founded Mothering.com in 1995 and is currently its editor-in chief. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has lectured and conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League International, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


This entry was posted
on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 at 9:05 AM and is filed under Breastfeeding.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.




Recommended Reading