The Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

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The Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria are the most important tool to guide the work of hospitals through the Baby-Friendly designation process. 
Recently there has been some public discussion about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and the practice of mothers and infants remaining together throughout the hospital stay.  Rooming-in, as the practice is called, has been recommended for infants' health and safety for decades.  The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program that was launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization and UNICEF and is based on the best scientific evidence available.  The role of Baby-Friendly USA is to assess birthing facilities in accordance with these standards.

Baby-Friendly designated hospitals are not required to close their newborn nurseries.  Rooming-in is an evidenced-based practice that is beneficial to both mothers and infants and is the routine standard of care.  It is Baby-Friendly USA's expectation that all practices associated with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding be implemented in a sensitive manner that is responsive to the family's needs and follows the safety protocols of the facility.

  • GUIDELINES: These represent the standard of care that facilities should strive to achieve for all patients.
  • EVALUATION CRITERIA:  These represent the minimum standard that a facility must achieve in order to become Baby-Friendly designated.

Click here to download a copy of the most recent Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria.

Click here to view a presentation on the Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria.

Facility structure and operations throughout the country vary.  When developing action plans, facilities need to factor in their specific resources, opportunities and challenges as they follow the standards outlined in the Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria.

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