What is BFI?
The Baby-Friendly Initiative
The Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) is a global program that promotes, protects and supports breastfeeding. The program was first introduced in 1991 by the WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) to encourage maternity centers to establish practices that are evidenced based and promote the implementation of the WHO Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Approximately 22,000 centers within 157 countries around the world are designated as “Baby-Friendly” facilities.
Why is BFI important?
Breastfeeding is important. Research shows that breastfeeding can reduce healthcare costs and prevent disease. BFI represents the minimum standards in breastfeeding best practice.
Why Baby-Friendly and not Breastfeeding Friendly?
BFI isn’t just about breastfeeding. BFI is about encouraging families to make informed decisions using evidence based information.
Facts about BFI in Canada:
- In Canada the WHO Ten Steps have been adapted to fit the Canadian perspective and continuity of care, encouraging both maternity centers and community health centers to adopt Baby-Friendly practices.
- The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada is responsible for the designation of Canadian Baby-Friendly Hospitals and Community Health Centers
- The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is on track to have the first BFI designated facility in Alberta!
- There are 16 Baby-Friendly designated facilities in Canada – 5 Hospitals (BC – 2 & Ontario – 3) and 11 Community Health Centers (Ontario – 10 & Saskatchewan – 1) (BCC, 2013)
- Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services is responsible for BFI in Quebec. Quebec has over 20 designated facilities.