national infant feeding network

National Infant Feeding Networks (NIFN)

Home > About the Baby Friendly Initiative > National Infant Feeding Networks (NIFN)

The National Infant Feeding Network (NIFN) is a network of around 800 infant feeding specialists and academics responsible for the support and education of health professionals and students across England and Northern Ireland, who in turn are responsible for caring for babies, mothers and their families every year.

Supported by UNICEF UK, the network shares and promotes evidence-based practice around infant feeding and very early childhood development to deliver optimum health and wellbeing outcomes for mothers and babies and their families.

Effective communication across the networks is coordinated by nine local leads who provide representation of their members’ views at national strategic level.

Below are full details of your regional NIFN coordinator and information for Infant Feeding Leads wanting to attend a local meeting, as well as information on the NIFN’s neonatal network.

England: NeoNIFN

Thanks to a grant from the Department of Health, a neonatal branch of the National Infant Feeding Network (NeoNIFN) was created to support neonatal units to improve practice and standards of care for sick and preterm babies and their families. Find out more and join, or contact Karen Read ([email protected]) for further details.

Scotland: NeoSIFAN

This group of infant feeding advisors are involved in the implementation of the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative neonatal standards. The purpose of our group is similar to SIFAN but focuses on neonatal care. It provides a platform to share information and knowledge which will support practice. We are lucky to have the representatives from Scottish Government and UNICEF UK at our meetings which take place 3 times a year.

NeoSIFAN is currently chaired by myself, Gillian Bowker. I am the neonatal infant feeding lead for Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Previous to this post I was a neonatal nurse and have worked in various units throughout the UK. Currently all of the units in Glasgow are stage 2 within neonatal and two of them are working towards stage 3. It is an exciting time to be involved in neonates and I look forward to working with NeoSIFAN on our Scottish journey towards accreditation.

For more information contact [email protected]

Coordinator: Sarah Pickford

Hello, my name is Sarah Pickford and I am a Health Visitor and the Baby Friendly Lead for the Health Visiting service in Bedford community. Since being in post I have led our service through accreditation in Health Visiting standards and obtained GOLD Achieving Sustainability accreditation in 2019. I am also working as a Professional Officer for UNICEF UK Baby Friendly where I carry out assessments and training on courses within Neonatal, Health Visiting, Maternity and Children Centre specialist areas.  I am fully aware of the challenges that may arise and the benefits of supporting others on their Baby Friendly journey.

Our regional NIFN meetings take place four times a year with some support meetings in-between. We are a friendly group of professionals who share good practice, offer one another support and encouragement and influence infant feeding strategy within the region. We also debate clinical issues and offer practical support for challenges you may face in the workplace.

If you are an infant feeding lead for a Maternity, Neonatal, Health Visiting, or Children’s Centre service, or a University, you would be very welcome to join this friendly & informal group.

Contact details

If you work in our area and would like to be involved, please contact me at: [email protected] /  07580424026

Coordinator: Natalie Boxall

My name is Natalie Boxall and I am the Specialist Midwife for Infant Feeding at Sherwood Forest Hospitals in Nottinghamshire. I am an IBCLC and my duties include running a frenulotomy service and training and supporting our brilliant maternity and neonatal teams. I also line manage an amazing group of community healthcare support workers (the Lime Green Team) who offer ongoing feeding support for women and birthing parents in our area.

I have previously worked at a stand-alone birth centre and home birth team, and I am passionate about providing informed choice and equitable parent-focused care.

Our group meets four times each year and covers Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire. These meetings offer a chance to share experiences and evidence and updates in a warm, supportive and safe space.

Contact details

If you work in our area and would like to be involved, please contact me at: [email protected]

Coordinator: Smita Hanciles

Hello, my name is Smita Hanciles and I am one of the Professional Leads in the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Team.  Previously I have worked within Higher Education, Public Health and as an Infant Feeding Lead in London implementing Baby Friendly standards within Health Visiting and Early Years services .

As a group we currently meet on TEAMS and actively share information and offer support by email between meetings. We have also started to meet as smaller groups corresponding to the five Local Maternity Systems (LMS) in SE, SW,NW, North Central, and East London.  The meetings are friendly and informal and provide an opportunity to discuss clinical issues as well as provide updates from the Baby Friendly team and hear from invited speakers.  It also provides space to share practice and help to problem solve with those at a similar stage of accreditation and to feed up into the Infant Feeding agenda nationally.

Contact details

If you would like to know more please email me: [email protected]

or Tel: +44 20 3965 4725 M: +44 (0) 7471353442

Coordinator: Roslyn Nunn

Hello, my name is Roslyn Nunn. I am the Infant Feeding Co-ordinator with the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System, leading  on our regional strategy. Previously, I have been an Infant Feeding Lead in Maternity, Health Visiting and Children’s Centre settings programme managing Baby Friendly accreditation.

The North East and North Cumbria NIFN group meets quarterly with additional monthly virtual drop-in sessions. We are a really friendly group who work closely together to share good practice, help develop regional guidance and encourage and support each other with any challenges faced within our areas of work.

The meetings provide an opportunity to feed into the infant feeding strategic agenda, listen to speakers and give the chance to hear more about the regional leads’ tri-annual meeting. In addition, we hold regular bespoke regional Neonatal and University Lecturers meetings.

Contact details

If you would like to know more please do contact me via email: [email protected]

Coordinator: Kathryn Ashton

My name is Kathryn Ashton and I work as the Infant Feeding Coordinator at Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust. Prior to taking up my post in 2009 I worked as a neonatal midwife and have always been passionate about breastfeeding. Since being in post I have led our organisation through accreditation in maternity services and in 2019 obtained GOLD Achieving Sustainability accreditation. I also supported our neonatal unit to become the first Baby Friendly accredited in neonatal standards in the North West.

I work in close collaboration with the Health Visiting Lead for Community Services and our project lead for start well centres.

As a group we meet three times a year to provide support, share good practice and learn from each other in a friendly environment.  We use ‘action learning’ to progress support for each other and mothers and babies in each of our respective areas of practice. Our welcoming and informal meetings also provide an opportunity to feed into the infant feeding agenda nationally as well as the chance to hear more about the English regional leads’ tri-annual meeting.

Contact details

If you are an infant feeding co-ordinator in a maternity unit, neonatal unit, health visiting service, children’s centre or university within the North West we would love to hear from you and you are very welcome to join us – please email me: [email protected] 01942 778569.

Coordinators: Hayley Clinton and Zeni Koutsi

Our names are Hayley Clinton and Zeni Koutsi and we are the South East NIFN leads.

Our regional meetings take place quarterly and incorporate a hybrid model at present with some online and some in-person meetings. We are also currently trialling monthly online virtual drop ins. Out meetings are fun, welcoming and informative with guest speakers and action learning sets to provide support and explore the areas of particular interest. We also support each other between meetings sharing information and asking questions to the group via email.

If you are an infant feeding lead for midwifery, neonatal, health visiting or children’s centre services please come along and join our fun and supportive group.

Contact details

Please contact Hayley Clinton at [email protected] or Zeni Koutsi at [email protected]

Coordinator: Elizabeth Mayo

Welcome to the South West group! We cover a huge area from Swindon down and across to Dorset one way and the other way to the Welsh border, then down the coastline as far as you can go, including the Scilly Isles. Members of our group travel a long way for our meetings because we get such a lot of mutual support and help from them.

All of the South West services are well established with Baby Friendly so there is a huge amount of experience just waiting to be shared.

We used to meet three times a year at the Women’s Centre in Exeter. During the pandemic we have met virtually on Microsoft Teams several times a year. We also have informal drop-ins each month on teams so that we can continue to keep in touch.

I am the South West lead for the National Infant Feeding Network. My background is in midwifery, taking my unit from the beginning to full Baby Friendly accreditation. I am also part of the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly team.

Contact details

If you are an Infant Feeding Lead and would like more information, please do contact me : [email protected]

Coordinator: Amanda Costello

Hello,  my name is Amanda Costello. I am the West Midlands lead for the National Infant Feeding Network and a Public Health midwife in a maternity unit. I previously held the responsibility for the implementation of the Baby Friendly Initiative standards. This has taken me through the process from action planning meeting to full accreditation, reassessment and further action planning to address specific weaknesses. So I understand that for all my colleagues in maternity units, community and education, this can be a challenging but worthwhile process and I am fully aware of the value of a supportive and strong regional group.

The West Midlands NIFN group has representation from maternity, health visiting, children’s centres, public health and higher education. Collectively we share a great deal of experience, knowledge and skills. We meet four times a year to discuss national, regional and local strategies and provide support through action learning sets.

Our meetings are currently held on Microsoft Teams – we hope to hold a face-to-face meeting annually.

Contact details

Please get in touch with Amanda at [email protected]

Coordinator: Sally Goodwin-Mills

Hi, my name is Sally and I am the NIFN Lead for the Yorkshire and Humber region. I first qualified as a Children’s Nurse in 1995 and moved on to work in neonatal units until 2005. After that I trained and qualified as a Health Visitor and soon after successfully qualified as an IBCLC. I am now a passionate Infant Feeding and Maternity Health Improvement Specialist, working in Public Health in a large Local Authority. Working with the Health Visiting Service, I have project managed the journey from registering intent to Baby Friendly Gold accreditation, so I am fully aware of the challenges that may arise and the benefits of supporting others on their BFI journey.

Our regional NIFN meetings take place three times a year, with support meetings in between. We are a friendly group of professionals who share good practice, offer one another support and encouragement and influence infant feeding strategy within the region. We also debate clinical issues and offer practical support for challenges you may face in the workplace.

Contact details

If you are an infant feeding lead for a maternity, neonatal, health visiting or children’s centre service, or a university, you would be very welcome to join this friendly, informal group. Please contact me [email protected] / 07737941591

The Scottish Baby Friendly Initiative Group (SBFI)

The SBFI meets every 6 months  to bring together all of the infant feeding leads in midwifery, neonatal, health visiting and family nursing to provide an opportunity to network, discuss, share information and ideas for maintaining the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative  standards. The group also shares progress in working to Achieving Sustainability and provides a supportive and nurturing culture for one another.

Chair: Janet Dalzell, UNICEF UK Professional Lead for Scotland / [email protected] / Tel: 07766160668

The Scottish Baby Friendly Lecturer Network

This group meets every 6 months to bring together BFI leads for midwifery, health visiting, neonatal and paediatric education programmes in Scotland to discuss specific issues related the university setting, share information, resources and ideas for working with student learners.

Chair: Janet Dalzell, UNICEF UK Professional Lead for Scotland (PLS) / [email protected] / Tel: 07766160668

Scottish Infant Feeding Advisor Network (SIFAN)

SIFAN is a national group for NHS Infant Feeding Advisors from the 14 health boards, leading on infant feeding work at a local level in maternity and community. Membership also includes the Breastfeeding Leadership Team (BFLT) and representation from the Scottish Government Supporting Maternal and Infant Wellbeing policy team. The group provides a national forum to share good practice, learning and resources, use local expertise to influence national programmes and provide a collective response to consultations and issues of concern. It also provides a forum for mutual support and collaboration.

The group meets every 6 months alternating with SBFI group via Microsoft Teams with additional informal support meetings (SIFAN Breastfeeding Blethers) every 4-6 weeks.

Contact details: For more information, contact Anne Marie [email protected]

NeoSIFAN

NeoSIFAN is the neonatal arm of the national group which was established in 2017. It provides a network to share good practice which will help influence culture change and improve consistency of approach within Scottish neonatal units.

NeoSIFAN also supports ongoing workstreams of the Breastfeeding Leadership Team (neonatal) by sharing local expertise to influence national policies and programmes. The PLS attends to provide ongoing support with BFI accreditation.

Chair: Gillian Bowker [email protected]

Milk Bank Scotland 

Milk Bank Scotland, hosted by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, continues to provide equitable access to safe, screened donor human milk across Scotland. We continue to see an annual growth in donors, milk donation and recipients. In 2020, nearly 1000 babies across Scotland received donor human milk. We are also now able to support some mothers and babies at home in exceptional circumstances and to provide small amounts of milk to mothers and babies who may need some early supplements to support ongoing breastfeeding.

We accept donors from all over mainland Scotland and are exploring ways to support women on the islands. We continue to work closely with volunteers from Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity who transport milk all over Scotland.

Contact details: For more information please visit  Milk Bank Scotland – NHSGGC or follow us on Facebook at Milk Bank Scotland or on Twitter @MilkBankScot or in Instagram @scotmilkbank. Please contact: [email protected]

Useful resources

In Scotland we have fantastic resources to support breastfeeding nationally, these include

Coordinator: Pauline McKeown

NIFN Northern Ireland (NIFN NI) currently meets three times a year and is supported by the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. The group is comprised of infant feeding representatives from all of the Health Board/Trust areas in Northern Ireland. The group currently has Infant Feeding Leads or breastfeeding coordinators from the various Health and Social Care Trusts along with Public Health Agency, University and SureStart representation. The Neonatal Infant Feeding Leads also attend the NIFN NI meeting but have recently agreed to meet separately in addition to this to focus specifically on progressing standards for neonatal units across Northern Ireland. 100% BFI accredited across Maternity and health Visiting services in Northern Ireland

The Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland has many evidence based resources available to help support infant feeding which include:

Contact details

Pauline McKeown, Senior Professional Officer for Northern  Ireland: [email protected]

Coordinator: Sharon Breward MBE QN

The Wales Infant Feeding Network (WIFN) is the professional forum representing health service infant feeding/lactation care leads from maternity, health visiting and neonatal care in Welsh Health Boards. It also includes educators and academics in Welsh universities, representatives from Public Health Wales and Allied Health Professionals involved in lactation / infant feeding care. Meetings are held at least 3 x per year with other training / task group/ urgent meetings convened if/as necessary. Find out more in WIFN’s Terms of Reference (pdf download).

Sharon’s professional background is in nursing, midwifery & health visiting. Sharon has been an IBCLC and a Breastfeeding Counsellor with the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers  for over 20 years and an NHS Infant Feeding Co-ordinator since 2006: initially across the allied services in North West Wales and from 2014 across the region of North Wales.

Contact details

Please reach out to [email protected] with any queries.

Coordinator: Dr Alison Taylor

A National Infant Feeding Network for universities is in place: this supports infant feeding lead lecturers who hold the responsibility for instigating and maintaining a university’s Baby Friendly educational standards for either midwifery or health visiting pre-registration programmes.

The network of lecturers aims to promote discussion of best infant feeding educational practice within universities, and supports lecturers to come together and share curricula, best practice, learning outcomes and develop centres of excellence.

Supported by Unicef UK, the network shares and promotes evidence-based practice around infant feeding and very early childhood development to deliver optimum health and wellbeing outcomes for mothers and babies (and their families).

A midwife and midwifery lecturer for over 35 years, Alison is the Baby Friendly Project Lead Lecturer for the BSc (Hons) Midwifery Programme at Bournemouth University (BU) and also works in the Baby Friendly Team as a Professional Officer on a casual contract. Alison’s areas of scholarship include breastfeeding and using innovative ways to enhance student experience through education, research and professional practice. She has published from her PhD research which explored women’s experience of breastfeeding using video diaries. She has set up and facilitates an inter-professional student-led breastfeeding clinic which has been evaluated to not only enhance mother’s experiences of breastfeeding but also to increase student learning and confidence in clinical practice. Having achieved the BF Gold Award at BU, Alison is passionate about supporting and networking with other BF Project Lead Lecturers who are responsible for initiating and maintaining the university’s Baby Friendly educational standards for midwifery, health visiting or children’s nursing.

Contact details

[email protected] to be added to the University Jiscmail group.

Further information