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Initiative Resources

If a participating hospital would like a document in an editable format (Word) please contact the National BFHI Coordinator

Frequently asked questions

Want more information? See our Frequently Asked Questions BFHI FAQ (pdf 133 KB)   

BFHI and Quality Standards Themes image.jpg (433070 bytes)

BFHI activities fit with National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare (read more)

Policies and supporting documents

HSE National Infant feeding policy for maternity and neonatal services (revised 2015)
Parents' Guide to the Infant Feeding policy 
     Parents' Guide in Irish, Polish, Arabic and in Lithuanian
Notes for policy orientation session for new staff 
Antenatal Discussion Checklist (See BFHI Link newsletter Issue 22 for accompanying parent handout)
Breastfeeding in Ireland. A five-year strategic action plan - National Committee on Breastfeeding, Department of Health and Children. 2005 (pdf 600KB)
National Maternity Strategy, Department of Health 2016 (pdf 10MB - large file warning)

Review your hospital's practices - Maternity

for Neonatal, Paediatric, Whole Hospital, Health Service Workplace and Primary Care/Community Health click here 

Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (pdf 90 KB)

Criteria for best practice and assessment (revised Oct 2014) (pdf 249 KB)

You can appraise your maternity service practices by using the BFHI Global Self-Appraisal Form.

BFHI Self-Appraisal form  including Policy Self-Appraisal Checklist (revised 2014) (pdf 544 KB)

Process Flow Charts BFHI in Ireland - Introduction to Designation to Sustaining

Hospitals designated as meeting the criteria as Baby-friendly Hospitals are required to maintain their standards. More information on monitoring and reassessment Also see Audit section below.


WHO/UNICEF Global Revision Project - information on the Global Revision of 2009. This link takes you to the UNICEF (global) website.


Role of health facility BFHI contact person 

Action Planning
Planning is a key component of most projects. A key to quality care is a plan that is:




Resources for Planning:

BFHI Link Issue 6 Issue 26 Issue 45 Issue 53

Action Plan Template and Action Report Form and Evaluation Thoughts and Planning the Evaluation Section in the Action Plan


Action plans for implementing BFHI practices can be linked the HSE Health and Wellbeing Quality, Patient Safety and Risk Management Standards. Plans, monitoring, audits and assessments required for annual BFHI reports can serve to indicate compliance with the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare without additional work. Read more here



Compares actual performance against standards  and is conducted by those providing the service. It does not involve trialing of new practices, but evaluates the effectiveness of current practices. Information for audit may come from reviews of documentation, indicators such as rate, interviews and discussion with service users and with service providers. 

An audit can identfy gaps and lead to development of an Action Plan to address that gap and bring practices nearer the standard.


What does a hospital need to audit? If the practices of the criteria and policy are implemented and standards are met. An Audit Summary Template is attached based on the BFHI Ireland standards. Use with the Criteria document. 

Audit tools can be obtained from the BFHI National Coordinator for all Steps plus the Code.

Want more? HSELanD, the HSE's online resource for Learning and Development has a self-study short course on Clinical Audit with information relvant to planning audits.


The "Code"

What is the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and why does it matter? The International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes (often called the WHO Code) was adopted in 1981 by the World Health Assembly (WHA). All WHA Member States including Ireland send represenatives to the WHA meetings. The Member States vote on resolutions such as the "Code". There are relevant subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions about every two years which serve to update the Code.

The aim of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes is to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants by the protection and promotion of breastfeeding, AND by ensuring the proper use of breast milk substitutes, when these are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution. Thus it aims to protect all babies.   

Read more about the International Code

The International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes is 35 years old in May 2016. Mark the occasion. Read more


The Code and Baby Friendly Hospitals in Ireland

Baby-friendly designated hospitals are required to support the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and its subsequent resolutions. The International Code goes beyond what is required by Irish legislation on infant formula marketing. 

A hospital may not be awarded or may be at risk of losing its designation as a Baby-friendly Hospital if staff use their positions and the hospital name to market infant formula or other products covered by the Code. 

When a health worker participates in a Baby Fair or Award Scheme or speaks at an event that is sponsored by a company related to formula, bottles and teats, what impression does this give to parents and to colleagues? Read more

What is the role of health service managers in relation to staff, hospital good name and the Code? Read more

If a hospital employee speaks at a formula sponsored event does this imply the hospital endorses the products? Read more

Magazines and materials given to pregnant women by the hospital - what are they marketing? Read more

What do codes of professional conduct and ethics say about involvement with marketing? Read more

What are the different forms of marketing, how to watch out for them in health facilities and how to minimise the impact on parents. Download and read the Guide for Health Workers to working within the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes from BFI UK (2013)

If mothers have a Right to decide how they feed their baby do they have a Right to support to carry out their decision? Read more and also see BFHI Link Issue 57

Working Within The Code - Video and Facilitated Discussion Outline for Dr Helen Crawley’s presentation at the BFI UK 2015 conference. Click here for Facilitator's Guide and handouts.

More resources on the Code 


BFHI in Ireland does not provide training courses directly to hospitals. 

The criteria for assessment is that the relevant staff have the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to implement the hospital policy and baby-friendly practices. This knowledge, attitude and skill is likely to be acquired through classroom sessions, reading, practical training, informal discussions, workshops and other means, both as pre-service and continuing education. Training needs will depend on the staff member's role and involvement with pregnant women, new mothers and their infants. All staff in contact with mothers need to be aware of the hospital breastfeeding policy and their role in implementing it. 

BFHI in Ireland does not require hospitals to teach any particular course and it does not accredit courses or course facilitators. 

More on Training

Competence Framework for Breastfeeding Support  (for health workers)

The Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland (ALCI) recently (2015) commissioned a Competence Framework for Breastfeeding Support (for health workers). The work is now completed and can be viewed here.  
The work was completed by Dr. Louise Gallagher IBCLC, Kathryn Muldoon and Denise McGuinness IBCLC of  the School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Dublin, Trinity College Dublin. The Framework was developed in conjunction with the Education and Training Subgroup of the National Breastfeeding Strategy Implementation Committee and funded by the HSE.

Materials in languages other than English

BFHI in other countries, particularly the BFI UK. See Links page.
La Leche League  Go to www.lalecheleague.org  then click on Welcome in the language you are looking for or the web site of that country. Also ask your local La Leche League Leader about materials.
Cuidiu-ICT has many of their leaflets in languages other than English  http://www.cuidiu-ict.ie/languages

Contents of the publication may vary slightly from the English language version or version in Ireland. For example, the BFI UK publication Breastfeeding Your Baby is not exactly the same as the BFHI Ireland publication by the same name. Terms such as community midwife and health visitor may be used in UK information, and visits to paediatrician in US materials where we would take the baby to a GP or public health nurse.  Information from other countries may lack contact details for support in Ireland so ensure there is a sticker or other information that gives local contacts.

Remember it is better to give no leaflet than to give a leaflet in the person’s own language that has incorrect information. Do not give out leaflets if you do not know what is written in them.

If you are thinking of translating BFHI materials for use in Ireland, please check first with the BFHI National Coordinator. This ensures you are using the most recent version and not duplicating work already done. Copyrighted materials should not be translated without permission from the holder of the copyright.

BFHI in Ireland Complaints Policy and Procedure download


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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: September 05, 2017