Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative

What is it?

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative assists hospitals in giving all mothers the information, confidence, and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991.

It recognizes and awards birthing facilities who successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (i) and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

The goal is to achieve optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding.

Becoming a Baby-Friendly facility compels facilities to examine, challenge and modify longstanding policies and procedures. It requires training and skill building among all levels of staff.


How does a hospital become baby friendly?

Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the Ten Steps to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
  2. Train all healthcare staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.



Which hospitals in MI are baby friendly?

Find out which hospitals are certified at

Local hospitals:

  • Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI (10/14)
  • Spectrum Health United Hospital, Greenville, MI (07/14)
  • Mercy Health St. Mary’s Campus, Grand Rapids, MI (01/18)
  • Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital, Zeeland, MI (12/18)


325 U.S. Hospitals in 48 states and District of Columbia are Baby Friendly

16.23% of births in the US occur in Baby-Friendly facilities


Where can I find more information?