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What is the Baby Friendly Health Initiative in Ireland?

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global campaign by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) which recognises that implementing best practice in the maternity service is crucial to the success of programmes to promote breastfeeding.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative can be viewed as a quality initiative implementing research based best practices. The successful implementation of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding ensures that the hospital/unit supports and promotes informed parental choice through the provision of appropriate, accurate and unbiased information and discussions. The initiative involves health promoting practices and so is ideally linked with both health promotion activities and quality programmes.

The Initiative was launched in 1991 and there are more than 20,000 hospitals/maternity units in 156 countries worldwide, including over 400 in Europe, that have been externally assessed and recognised as meeting the standards to be designated Baby Friendly. 

Download an Overview of BFHI in Ireland

Irelandís involvement with the BFHI commenced in April 1998. 

Eighteen of the nineteen maternity units/hospitals participate in the Initiative (shown as a yellow dot). 

Currently nine have been externally assessed as meeting the BFHI criteria (shown by name on the map). 

List of maternity units/hospitals.

map ireland BFHI names minus 1 Dec 2015.jpg (233976 bytes)

The title was changed in Ireland in 2013 from Hospital to Health to include the broader health service settings that might become part of the Initiative in the future. When the BFHI in Ireland began it was a part of the Health Promoting Hospitals programme. It is now an independent organisation in receipt of grant-aid from the HSE Health Promotion, Health and Wellbeing Division. 

2016 is the 25th Anniversary of the beginning of the UNICEF/WHO Global Baby Friendly Initiative. As part of marking this anniversary countries were asked to submit a case study of the BFHI in their country. Read Ireland's case study here.

In Ireland, BFHI also has a Breastfeeding Supportive Paediatric Unit Project and a Breastfeeding Supportive Workplace Project, though these are currently inactive. BFHI in Ireland is participating in the development of the international Neontal BFHI project.

See our Programme Resources for more information on tools to assist with activities within the BFHI in Ireland.

How does BFH in Ireland function?

The Baby Friendly Health Initiative in Ireland aims to function with transparency, accountability and integrity.

What do the National Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative co-ordinator 
and the BFHI National Committee do?
Protection and Complaints Policy

BFHI Ireland Annual Reports
Download here
2014 Download here
Download here
2012 Download here

The Baby Friendly Health Initiative in Ireland has signed up to the national Governance Code for organisations working in the Community, Voluntary & Charity sector in Ireland and are on the journey towards being fully compliant with the Governance Code. 

The Baby Friendly Health Initiative in Ireland has successfully fulfilled the requirements and passed all the stages to be a charitable organisation registered by the Charities Regulatory Authority  under the Charities Act 2009. Registered Charity Number (RCN): 20103323    http://charitiesregulatoryauthority.ie/

BFHI and the National Strategic Action Plan for Breastfeeding 2005-2010
How BFHI participation links to achieving the strategic objectives
        National Strategic Action Plan for Breastfeeding

Contact Information

The BFHI Coordinator, Dr Genevieve Becker, works part-time and is best contacted by email.  
Electronic mail contact@babyfriendly.ie Postal address
c/o Carmichael Centre, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7,  D07 RHA8

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Copyright © 1999-2016 Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in Ireland. Material on this site may be used for non-commercial purposes. Please credit BFHI Ireland. If you wish to translate any of this material, please contact to discuss as a translation may already exist.
Last modified: October 22, 2016