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Baby-Friendly Initiative

What is the Baby-Friendly Initiative?

The Baby-Friendly Initiative is a global campaign that aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding all around the world. It was created by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund.

What is the goal of the Baby-Friendly Initiative?

The goal of the Baby-Friendly Initiative is to increase the rates of mothers who begin and continue to exclusively breastfeed (1) for the first six months and then beyond with the addition of appropriate foods. It does this by providing the best possible care within all health services for all babies and mothers. The Baby-Friendly Initiative encourages parents to make the best decisions about feeding their babies to help give their child the best possible start in life.

(1) Exclusive breastfeeding; based on the WHO definition, refers to the practice of feeding only breast milk (including expressed breast milk) and allows the baby to receive vitamins, minerals or medicine. Water, breast milk substitutes, other liquids and solid foods are excluded.

What does Baby-Friendly mean?

The term Baby-Friendly is used because it includes all babies whether they are breastfed or formula-fed. This means that all babies, breastfed or not, are accepted, supported and receive the same evidence-based care in any health service or program. The idea is that with more information and support, parents will feel more confident to breastfeed.

Pregnant women attending prenatal classes in Peel are informed about the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of formula feeding. All mothers and babies are supported to safely feed their baby, regardless of their feeding method. Women are taught how to initiate breastfeeding, where to seek help and the importance of seeking assistance early.

What is Peel Public Health doing to support the Baby-Friendly Initiative?

The Region of Peel-Public Health has completed a four-year journey to join other Canadian community health services in becoming designated as Baby-Friendly. The Region of Peel-Public Health has the highest birth rate among all the community health services in Canada to earn this important designation. When the Region of Peel-Public Health became designated as Baby-Friendly, all health services and programs were approved to provide evidence-informed care to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. At the Region of Peel-Public Health, all Family Health Staff are trained to support breastfeeding families in the initiation and duration of breastfeeding. This means that you as a client or program participant will:

The Region of Peel-Public Health has Baby-Friendly Policies and is implementing the Integrated 10 Step Outcome Indicators for Hospital and Community Health Services:

  • Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care providers and volunteers
  • Ensure all health care providers have the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the breastfeeding policy
  • Inform pregnant women and their families about the importance and process of breastfeeding
  • Place babies in uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following birth for at least an hour or until completion of the first feeding or as long as the mother wishes: encourage mothers to recognize when their babies are ready to feed, offering help as needed
  • Assist mothers to breastfeed and maintain lactation should they face challenges including separation from their infants
  • Support mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months, unless supplements are medically indicated
  • Facilitate 24 hour rooming-in for all mother-infant dyads: mothers and infants must remain together.
  • Encourage baby-led or cue-based breastfeeding. Encourage sustained breastfeeding beyond six-months with appropriate introduction of complementary foods
  • Support mothers to feed and care for their breastfeeding babies without the use of artificial teats or pacifiers (dummies or soothers)
  • Provide a seamless transition between the services provided by the hospital, community health services and peer support programs. Apply principles of Primary Health Care and Population Health to support the continuum of care and implement strategies that affect the broad determinants that will improve breastfeeding outcomes

What does it take to become Baby-Friendly?

To ensure successful breastfeeding in the Peel region, programs and services will follow the 10 Integrated Steps (PDF, 27KB) for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. These steps serve as a guideline for hospital and community health services to support successful breastfeeding.

To be designated as Baby Friendly, a community health service has to implement the 10 Integrated Steps and the WHO Code of Marketing Breast Milk Substitutes (2) that aims to protect families from commercial pressures.

In Peel, all Family Health staff are trained to support breastfeeding families in the initiation and duration of breastfeeding. Our practice is guided by the Breast feeding-Baby Friendly Initiative Policy and this is communicated to families through the Region of Peel-Public Health: Our Baby-Friendly Pledge.

(2) Breastmilk Substitute; any food being marketed or represented as a partial or total replacement for breastmilk whether or not suitable for that purpose, e.g. formula, whole milk, evaporated cow's milk, juice, teas, glucose water, solid foods (WHO & UNICEF, 2001).

Where can I go to get more information on the Baby-Friendly Initiative?

Everyone involved benefits from a Baby-Friendly environment!

Breastfeeding in the First Weeks | Six Weeks to Six Months
Six Months and Beyond | Breastfeeding Resources | Contact Us

Revised: Thursday July 11 2019


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