Early childhood

The Issue

UNICEF in Action

Resources on Early Childhood Development


Child and infant feeding

© UNICEF/CEECIS2013P-0364/Pirozzi

Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)

In 1991, the WHO and UNICEF launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI). The Initiative was launched to support one of the Innocenti Declaration’s primary objectives:

"Ensure that every facility providing maternity services fully practises all 10 of the ‘Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding’ set out in the joint WHO/UNICEF statement, Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breast-feeding"

UNICEF 10 steps to successful breastfeeding:

  1. Have a written breast-feeding policy routinely communicated to health care staff. 
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy. 
  3. Inform all pregnant women of the benefits of breastfeeding and how to carry it out successfully. 
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth. 
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain the flow of breastmilk even if they should be separated from their infants. 
  6. Give newborn infants no food and drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated. 
  7. Practice rooming-in – allowing mothers and infants to remain together – 24 hours a day. 
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand. 
  9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (i.e dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants. 
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Innocenti Declaration

In 2005, a meeting was organized in Florence to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration approved in 1990, in collaboration with UNICEF's Nutrition Section in New York.

On that occasion, a new version of the Innocenti Declaration was approved by the participants, which included the recommendations of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding and reaffirmed the importance of promoting breastfeeding in the accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals. The Innocenti Declaration 2005 was then endorsed by the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition and welcomed by the World Health Assembly.



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