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What is The Baby Friendly Community Initiative?

The Baby Friendly Community Initiative is on hold

We acknowledge the commitment community services (see BFCI Accredited Facilities) have made to this programme.  While some of these services have lapsed in accreditation, this is due primarily to NZBA's review.  Once this has been completed services will again to able to continue or start the BFCI programme.

Here is the story to date...

Families and communities are indispensable resources for mothers in the education of infant and young child feeding. Evidence has shown that mother-to-mother support groups, peer counsellors, and community-based workers can be very effective in helping mothers to initiate exclusive breastfeeding and sustain breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond.

In New Zealand around 80 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed on discharge from baby-friendly hospitals. However this percentage drops significantly to 49 percent six weeks after birth, and then a low of 16.7 percent at six months. 

The Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI) plays an important role in creating supportive breastfeeding services in the community, just as BFHI has in maternity services.

The BFCI aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for healthy mothers and babies through the implementation of best practice standards of care which are based on current scientific evidence, and set guidelines. The BFCI programme includes a broader focus on:

  • providing community support for the initiation of breastfeeding to improve exclusive breastfeeding rates, and
  • supporting mothers to increase the duration of breastfeeding alongside the appropriate introduction of complementary foods.

The vision of the BFCI Aotearoa New Zealand is to see the restoration of breastfeeding as the cultural norm. All community services participating in the BFCI are measured, monitored and evaluated by the New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance (NZBA) to provide a high level of care for antenatal, birthing, postnatal and mothers with infants and/or young children in the community.

Staff in Baby Friendly accredited services must adopt best practice standards for infant and young child feeding that aim to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Services must provide factual information and support for pregnant women and mothers. At the same time, they must ensure mothers who decide not to breastfeed are supported in their decision, and provided with unbiased information and advice.

The NZBA advocates for the implementation of the Innocenti Declaration 2005 On Infant and Young Child Feeding in New Zealand.


"The NZBA is hugely encouraged by the positive impact of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, and we now want to follow up with the Baby Friendly Community Initiative Aotearoa New Zealand.

This is your invitation to join us in our bid to protect, promote and support breastfeeding within community organisations throughout New Zealand. As stated in the Ministry of Health's National Strategic Plan of Action for Breastfeeding, we need to ensure that: "Women and their whanau/family have the information they need to make confident and informed decisions about breastfeeding, and to live and work in an environment that enables and supports their decisions".

We want a consistent standard of breastfeeding knowledge and skills to be available for women and their families in the wider community, so that they will be encouraged to initiate and continue breastfeeding, and view it as the best food source for their infants."

- Jane Cartwright, Executive Officer, New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance



The Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI) can have positive repercussions for your organisation. Some of the associated benefits include:

  • Acceptance of the BFCI will strengthen your health liaison relationships community-wide
  • Your organisation will be supporting the building of a healthier community - there is strong evidence to show that breastfeeding infants are healthier, and there are significant health benefits for breastfeeding mothers
  • You will be helping to improve parent/child relationships with a good start to the parenting experience
  • By providing skilled care for mothers, including showing them how to feed their babies and protecting them from harmful practices, you are actively helping to build their confidence and improve exclusive breastfeeding rates in your community
  • You will be helping to improve Maori and Pacific breastfeeding rates by adopting and implementing BFCI practices - at present Maori breastfeeding rates are the lowest of any ethnic group in New Zealand
  • You will well equipped to help all breastfeeding mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies from birth to six months

Testimonials from BFCI accredited services

BFCI Pilot group coordinators

"Our BFCI services are continuing to make a greater difference to new mothers and have improved their service delivery over the past year. These services have managed to support more mothers to continue to breastfeed.

"The participants feel more confident and knowledgeable about breastfeeding. The training offered by the NZBA was excellent."

Family Start

"It has increased our focus on the value of breastfeeding for the wellbeing of the baby, and has increased my confidence as to who to refer to in the community for breastfeeding support. It has ensured everyone gets the same information, and we have set up a breastfeeding room."


"I am 1000% behind this initiative because I can see what it can do in the community here. It was a real thrill when I saw my client in the postnatal ward and was talking to her about breastfeeding. The mother said it was exactly what the night nurse had told her. It's great that we are all saying the same messages."

Maori health providers

"This has been a huge step for us to become Baby Friendly. We now all truly live and walk the korero of breastfeeding. Staff know how to refer in-house and when to seek external support.

"We now all relay the same messages, and demonstrate these principles at work as well as at home."


"We now have a policy and posters displayed and breastfeeding chairs in all of our clinics. Our group approached the district council asking for changes."

La Leche League

"The BCFI is a really good networking opportunity and we can now support one another. Previously, I felt there was just lip service to breastfeeding whereas now I feel they are passionate about it."

Lactation Consultant

"The training was excellent, it meshed everything together. It was an in depth explanation on how breastfeeding works."

Parents Centre Educator

"The training has helped my teaching. I have made changes to my classes".

GP Practice

"While we were always keen on breastfeeding and encouraged it, the BFCI programme has focused us and helped us concentrate more on how we run the practice. It gave us the opportunity to work together and be more cohesive as a team so we could support women in our community."

Community Health Centre

"Since we began BFCI and started to promote and understand breastfeeding more, we work together as a team to help the people in our community. It was a great way to join up and work together to be collaborative and consistent in a caring way."