Baby Friendly Initiative

The Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) is a globally-recognized public health initiative developed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.  It aims to ensure that all mothers and their infants receive the highest quality of family-centered care.  The BFI program describes the best practices and interventions that health care facilities, including hospitals, health centres and public health, can implement in order to promote safe infant feeding and support families to build confidence and develop close relationships with their infants. 

The initiative consists of the Ten Steps or ‘best practices’, including:

  • providing expectant parents with information about breastfeeding;
  • training care providers so that they are knowledgeable and skilled at providing breastfeeding and infant feeding support;
  • supporting mother-baby togetherness and responsive parenting;
  • promoting skin-to-skin care and the safe feeding of infant formula.

BFI recognizes that family-centered care is important throughout pregnancy and after the birth of baby. It promotes the adoption of these Ten Steps across the spectrum of care, from the hospital to community health centre.

BFI in the NWT

  • Inuvik Regional Hospital received official designation as a Baby-Friendly facility in December 2018, becoming the first hospital in the arctic and the most northern hospital in Canada to receive this designation.
  • The Aurora College Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program has integrated the BFI infant feeding and family-centered maternity care learning objectives into its program.  This is the one of the first nursing programs in Canada to integrate this training so that nurses complete school already knowledgeable in infant feeding support.
  • The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is committed to supporting the implementation of BFI in facilities across the Northwest Territories.  The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency and Hay River Health and Social Services Authority are one of 15 health care organizations and 27 hospital sites from across Canada that have been selected by the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada to participate in a BFI Quality Improvement Collaborative project. The project will run from September 2019 to June 2021.
  • The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada hosted the National BFI Symposium 2019 in Yellowknife, NT from October 1-3, 2019.  The theme of the symposium explored how social justice and health equity can information the BFI and its implementation in Canada.  The event was attended by over 120 participants from across the Northwest Territories, Canada and the United States.
  • Moms, Boobs and Babies (NWT Breastfeeding Peer Support Group) offers peer support training to mothers, caregivers, and parents from across the Northwest Territories.