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Baby-Friendly: snappy slogan or standard of care?
  1. B L Philipp1,
  2. A Radford2
  1. 1Boston University School of Medicine, The Breastfeeding Center, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
  2. 2UNICEF UK Baby-Friendly Initiative, Africa House, 64–78 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6NB, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Barbara L Philipp
    Division of General Pediatrics, Maternity Building, 4th Floor, 91 East Concord Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA; bobbi.philipp{at}


Breastfeeding offers significant protection against illness for the infant and numerous health benefits for the mother, including a decreased risk of breast cancer. In 1991, UNICEF and WHO launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative with the aim of increasing rates of breastfeeding. “Baby-Friendly” is a designation a maternity site can receive by demonstrating to external assessors compliance with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. The Ten Steps are a series of best practice standards describing a pattern of care where commonly found practices harmful to breastfeeding are replaced with evidence based practices proven to increase breastfeeding outcome. Currently, approximately 19 250 hospitals worldwide have achieved Baby-Friendly status, less than 500 of which are found in industrialised nations. The Baby-Friendly initiative has increased breastfeeding rates, reduced complications, and improved mothers’ health care experiences.

  • AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics
  • BFHI, Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
  • BMC, Boston Medical Center
  • Baby-Friendly
  • breastfeeding

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  • Competing interests: none declared