What is Baby Friendly?

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Introduced to the UK in 1995, the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative is based on a global accreditation programme of Unicef and the World Health Organisation.

It is designed to support breastfeeding and parent infant relationships by working with public services to improve standards of care. It is the first ever national intervention to have a positive effect on breastfeeding rates in the UK.

What are Baby Friendly’s strengths?

  • We’re a UNICEF programme championing the best possible physical and emotional health for all babies in the UK
  • We’re UNIQUE in our recognition of the link between responsive parenting and infant feeding, and the impact this has on health, and social and emotional wellbeing
  • We’re UNIVERSAL, designed to reach all families regardless of who they are or where they come, from through an evidence-based, structured programme that is proven to deliver real change for mothers and babies within: Maternity, Health Visiting, Neonatal and Early Years services
  • We’re UNIFYING evidence, policy and practice by working collaboratively across a large network of organisations involving governments, public services, the voluntary sector and families.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child upholds the right to life, survival and development for all children. At the Baby Friendly Initiative we hold these principles at the heart of everything we do, giving babies the best possible chance to grow, develop and flourish in their critical foundation years.

How effective is Baby Friendly?

Research has shown that even modest increases in breastfeeding can result in significant savings. The Baby Friendly standards deliver this change for public services (as evidenced by a studies showing the effectiveness of the Baby Friendly Initiative), whilst ensuring long lasting, sustainable improvements in the care of mums and babies. Initial costs are recuperated within three years, and careful initial planning and investment will mean the sustainability of the standards and subsequent cost savings for many years to come.

Our programme is now recognised and recommended in numerous government and policy documents across all four UK nations. The majority of maternity units and health visiting services across the UK are now working towards Baby Friendly, with neonatal and children’s centre services now able to work towards a standalone accreditation. The Unicef UK Baby Friendly mark of accreditation is a nationally recognised mark of quality care for mothers and babies.

How does accreditation work?

Baby Friendly is an accreditation programme that is implemented over several years, using a staged approach. You can also access a full list of units across the UK, and their progress towards accreditation.

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UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Accreditation: An overview

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