Originally established in 1992, the Baby Friendly Initiative was introduced to the UK in 1994 and focused solely on maternity services by providing a 10-step programme to support and encourage mothers to breastfeed in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. It was then expanded to include community services, with a dedicated seven-point plan to enable improved practice in community health care in order to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.
However, as the evidence base grew, wider benefits of breastfeeding and early relationships began to emerge, linking breastfeeding to an increase in mothering hormones and strong mother-baby bonding. Given these wider benefits, it became clear that the Baby Friendly standards should also be applied more widely to ensure best outcomes for babies; going beyond maternity units into neonatal units, children’s centres and universities.
In 2012, Baby Friendly in the UK undertook a major review of all its standards to ensure the best possible outcomes for children. Using a comprehensive literature review along with focus groups, expert committees and an external consultation of mothers and health professionals, a new set of standards was developed which continue to embed the original standards (Ten Steps and Seven Points) and have also been expanded to encompass neonatal units, children’s centres and universities.