What is allowed under the WHO Code?

UNICEF UK has produced A guide for health workers to working within the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes which provides health professionals with guidance on all the forms of professional interactions with the formula milk industry from using their materials to attendance at study days to accepting money in the form of grants or research funding. Further information about the WHO Code can be found at:




Read the full Code

If our staff do not meet with representatives from the infant formula industry, how can we keep up to date with changes?

In order to achieve Baby Friendly accreditation, facilities need to comply with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. This means that there should be no advertising of breastmilk substitutes, teats and dummies within the facility of by staff.

Staff need information which is scientific and factual rather than advertising in order to practice effectively. Allocating a key person with an understanding of research processes to meet with representatives and who can then disseminate relevant, unbiased information to all other staff has been found to work most effectively. The evidence and rationale for the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative standards contains examples of this model being implemented.

What can be in Bounty bags?

Anything that is Code compliant can be included i.e. information and pictures that comply with the 1980 World Health Organization Code on Marketing and Distribution of Breastmilk Substitutes (the Code). See www.ibfan.org for articles explaining the Code.

You will also want to check the wording on written information about baby feeding. Baby Friendly requires that information given to pregnant women and new mothers is accurate and effective, so it is important that all information including that in Bounty Bags or equivalent and in leaflet racks supports and does not undermine the effective information given by staff. Many Infant Feeding Co-ordinators check through the Bounty bags every three months or so.

Please note that facilities and areas implementing UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative standards must comply with the Code rather than the UK Law.

Should the hospital provide ready to feed formula milk for babies?

In the past the vast majority of hospitals would provide ready to feed formula for those mothers who had chosen to formula feed. Recently, there appears to have been a move towards asking mothers to bring in their own milk, either in powder or ready-to-feed form. Where this means that mothers are shown how to make up a feed this can have a positive benefit. If the hospital does provide milk the following should be considered:

Firstly, full price must be paid for the supplies and proof shown at Stage 1 assessment.

Secondly, all pregnant women must have a 1:1 discussion about caring for and feeding their baby in the antenatal period (before 34 weeks). Therefore all pregnant women are in a position to make an informed choice about how they wish to feed their baby and then should be fully supported in that decision.

Thirdly, storage of supplies should be considered. Mothers should not be able to help themselves, whether they are breastfeeding or formula feeding. Staff need to be able to have a discussion with mothers prior to giving out bottle feeds about how the feeding is going. For those mothers who have chosen to formula feed their baby, Baby Friendly would expect that they are shown how to make up a bottle of infant formula safely.