Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program started in 1991 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to assist and recognize hospitals that offer an optimal level of care for mom and baby. Baby-Friendly USA implements the BFHI in the United States. Currently, more than 600 hospitals and birthing centers in the United States and more than 22,000 facilities worldwide are Baby-Friendly designated.

BFHI follows three core principles: 

  1. Human milk fed through direct breastfeeding is the optimal way for human infants to be nurtured and nourished.

  2. The precious first days in the birth facility should be protected as a time of bonding and support not influenced by commercial interests.

  3. Every mother should be informed about the importance of breastfeeding and respected to make her own decision.

Becoming a Baby-Friendly hospital is a comprehensive journey to successfully implementing the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding includes procedures important for the health and wellbeing of mom and baby. 

  • With an educated staff, a facility is able to inform all moms and give them the confidence and skills necessary to successfully begin and continue breastfeeding or safely feed formula. 

  • BFHI is about education, allowing each mother to make an informed decision about what is best for her and her family. 

  • Other aspects of the Ten Steps include practicing rooming in, where mother and baby remain together during the hospital stay, breastfeeding initiation within the first hour after birth, and breastfeeding education and discharge support to help mothers know where to get help. 

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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) supports Colorado hospitals in becoming Baby-Friendly designated. Hospitals interested in pursuing Baby-Friendly designation may join the Colorado Baby-Friendly Hospital Collaborative