Only a few short decades ago mums across the world were told that formula was the best way to feed their babies. These days though most researchers and medical professionals are recanting their statements, and are trying to re-establish the importance of women breastfeeding their babies exclusively until at least 6 months of age. There’s no question, however, that the “formula era” of the 1970s and 1980s has left its mark and has left many mums today confused or questioning whether or not breastfeeding is right for them, and whether formula is best for their baby.
Enter: The Baby Friendly Health Initiative
Commonly referred to as the BFHI, the Baby Friendly Health initiative was created by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF in 1991 in an effort to place a greater importance on women breastfeeding their babies for the benefit of their infant’s health. Not only does this initiative work with individuals on a one-on-one basis, but it has also been working with health facilities such as community health centers and maternity hospitals to try and encourage new mums to breastfeed their babies, and to continue doing so for as long as possible.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Infant formula does provide much of the nutrition that an infant requires to thrive and grow – but not all. Breastmilk is the only 100% complete food for your baby that contains of the nutrients, energy, and fluids that your baby needs for the first 6 months of his or her life, and in reduced quantities from 6 months on.
Not only does research continue to show that breastfeeding strengthens the mother-baby bond as well as increase intelligence, but it also improves eyesight, speech, and is suspected to have several other benefits.
(Breastfeeding also gives mums a great excuse to indulge in some trendy breastfeeding clothes that won’t only make feeding privately and publicly easier, but will help conceal any trouble spots, while highlighting mum’s new curves!)
BFHI: Not Just For Breastfeeding Mums
Let’s be honest: breastfeeding just isn’t for every mother and baby, and the Baby Friendly Health Initiative recognises this. The BFHI has one goal: to provide every infant with optimal health through whatever means possible. The organisation empowers formula feeding or alternative-feeding mothers as well, and helps these parents foster a strong relationship so that these mums and their babies are responsive and bonded to one another.