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The Baby-Friendly Initiative

The Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) is a global program established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 1991. The goal of BFI is to ensure families have all the information they need to make informed decisions about how to feed their infants and young children.

A Baby-Friendly facility encourages and helps women begin and continue to breastfeed their babies. Research shows that Baby-Friendly organizations have higher breastfeeding rates; more families decide to breastfeed and are able to continue breastfeeding because of the excellent support they receive. A Baby-Friendly organization provides the very best health teaching about feeding your infant and young child. BFI includes all babies and families, no matter how they feed or plan to feed their baby. Mothers who decide not to breastfeed are supported and provided with education to help them feed their baby in another safe and nurturing way.

What is a Baby-Friendly Designation?

In Canada, the Baby-Friendly designation is awarded by the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada (BCC) to a facility or organization that meets the following 10 requirements:

  1. A written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff and volunteers
  2. Health care providers that are trained in the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the breastfeeding policy
  3. Pregnant women and their families are informed about the importance and process of breastfeeding
  4. It is encouraged to have babies placed in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following birth for at least an hour, until completion of the first feeding, or as long as the mother wishes. Mothers are taught how to recognize when their babies are ready to feed, and help is offered as needed
  5. Mothers are helped to breastfeed and maintain lactation should they face challenges including separation from their infants
  6. Infants are not offered food or drink other than human milk for the first six months, unless medically indicated
  7. Mother and babies are encouraged to keep babies close to them, in the same room, after birth
  8. Baby-led or cue-based breastfeeding is encouraged, along with exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding beyond six months with the appropriate introduction of complementary foods
  9. Mothers are supported to feed and comfort their breastfeeding babies without the use of artificial teats or pacifiers (dummies or soothers)
  10. A seamless transition is provided between the services provided by the hospital, York Region's Community and Health Services and peer support programs

In addition to these 10 steps, York Region must also support and adhere to the principles of the WHO International Code of the Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes (the Code) to be awarded the Baby-Friendly designation. The Code protects all infants and young children by ensuring the information families receive is accurate, fact-based and free from commercial interest. It ensures all babies have access to safe nutrition of the highest quality and standard.

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York Region has received the Baby-Friendly designation

York Region has received the Baby-Friendly designation. We are committed to:

  • Educating staff and families regarding our Breastfeeding Policy which outlines York Region's commitment to providing the highest quality infant feeding services. A Parents' Guide to the Breastfeeding Policy will be available and posted in all Regional locations where families with young children may visit. Copies will be available upon request in English, Chinese, Farsi, Hungarian, Spanish and Tamil. Please call Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 (TTY 1-866-252-9933) to receive a copy of the Policy Summary
  • Providing health professionals and staff with specialized training to make sure all families receive high quality teaching and support around feeding infants and young child. Families will receive accurate, consistent information from all health professionals involved in their care
  • Offering breastfeeding information and support to families through prenatal classes, telephone health teaching and in-person breastfeeding clinics
  • Linking all families with resources in the community which will assist them to achieve their infant and young child feeding goals
  • Encouraging families to breastfeed throughout York Region communities, anytime, anywhere
  • Educating families and businesses about a woman’s right in Ontario to breastfeed or express breastmilk in the work place
  • Assisting other organizations in the community to support breastfeeding families and to provide the best information possible to families about infant and young child feeding
  • Ensuring families who are not breastfeeding have all the information and support they need to store, prepare and feed infant formula

York Region offers various programs and resources that encourage families to breastfeed exclusively for six months and continue to breastfeed for two years and beyond, or as long as mother and baby desire. York Region welcomes input from community agencies, organizations and families about how we can improve our services and make sure families in York Region get consistent messaging and information about:

  • The importance of breastfeeding
  • The risks of not breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding supports available in York Region
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Baby-Friendly York Region Coalition

The Baby-Friendly York Region Coalition will not only assist York Region Public Health in sustaining BFI designation, but will also support other community facilities to adopt BFI practices and move toward BFI designation. The Coalition provides a forum for interested professionals and community members to work together and provide input into the BFI designation process. By generating ideas and discussion from a variety of perspectives, we hope to increase breastfeeding success for mothers and babies in York Region.

Baby-Friendly York Region represents various community partners including all Regional hospitals, La Leche League, Ontario Early Years Centres, parenting support groups, physicians, midwives, doulas, mothers and families.

To find out more about the Baby-Friendly York Region Coalition, please email babyfriendly@york.ca.

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Becoming a Breastfeeding-Friendly Place

The Ontario Human Rights Code says women have the right to breastfeed, undisturbed in any public place in Ontario without being asked to cover up or move to a more discreet area.

The Becoming A Breastfeeding-Friendly Place guide provides businesses and public establishments with step-by-step instructions and resources to create breastfeeding-friendly and welcoming spaces. Decals are available for display in your establishment to promote breastfeeding in public and to attract families to your organization.

By welcoming breastfeeding families, your business will:

  • Publicly acknowledge the rights of breastfeeding families
  • Attract families to your facilities
  • Align your organization with the promotion of health and wellness

By supporting and welcoming breastfeeding families, you are joining many other businesses and organizations that are committed to promoting a healthy community.

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How can I get Involved?

If you are interested in promoting and supporting breastfeeding in our community, the York Region Breastfeeding Program is excited to hear from you. Please contact us at: babyfriendly@york.ca.

For more information on the Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI), please visit the Breastfeeding Committee of Canada website.



Baby-Friendly Initiative,BFI,breastfeeding,babies,children,informed decision The Regional Municipality of York en-US A family at the park seated on playground equipment and the mother is breastfeeding a baby. The Baby-Friendly Initiative The Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) ensures all families receive the information and support they need to safely feed their babies and young children. Learn more about his global program.

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