Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative


The Problem: Many health facilities and professionals are not delivering optimal breastfeeding promotion and support for mothers, families, and newborns.


The Solution: National Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) implementation can strengthen health worker practices, increase rates of optimal breastfeeding, and improve health, social, and economic outcomes for individuals and nations.


The BFHI has been one of the most effective interventions to enable optimal breastfeeding practices across different countries and contexts. Launched globally by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, the BFHI promotes improved policies and procedures in maternity facilities to support mothers to initiate breastfeeding in the first hour of life and obtain the skills to continue breastfeeding after discharge.


The BFHI is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (the Ten Steps) and recognizes the role that maternity and newborn facilities have in providing mothers with skills and support for successful breastfeeding. 


The revised BFHI implementation guidance for policy-makers and health facility managers can be used for advocating for country-level policy development and program implementation, while UNICEF provides a compendium of BFHI case studies from 13 countries around the world. 


Improving funding mechanisms is imperative to ensure BFHI programs are implemented sustainably and at scale, including increasing governments’ own contributions and drawing from other sustainable sources. The Global Breastfeeding Collective Case for Investment and World Breastfeeding Costing Initiative (WBCi) provide evidence of the cost-effectiveness of investments in breastfeeding. Additional advocacy resources can be found in the section on increasing funding