Baby-friendly hospital

Swiss hospitals that meet the quality criteria of UNICEF and the WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) are awarded the “Baby-Friendly Hospital” label by UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

What does the global Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative advocate?

Despite the many health benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and children, the frequency and duration of breastfeeding fell sharply in industrialized countries from the 1960s to the 1980s. In response, UNICEF and the WHO launched the international Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in 1992 with the aim of providing special protection for the first phase of newborns’ lives and ensuring the best possible conditions for a successful start to breastfeeding.


The initiative’s quality criteria

The initiative is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. The primary purpose of these ten steps is to strengthen the health of newborn babies. Hospital nursing staff should play a role in this process, providing advice and support.

The central features are:

  • Strengthening the mother-child relationship
    • Pregnancy and early childhood are crucial phases in the development of children. High-quality support, advice and care around birth and aftercare until children reach pre-school age promote a supportive mother-child relationship and strengthen the physical and mental health of mothers, newborns and their families. For example, immediate skin-to-skin contact between mothers and babies after birth, support for mothers during breastfeeding, and ongoing counseling on questions related to childhood development are central to the bond between mother and child.
  • Promoting breastfeeding
    • Breastfeeding promotes child health and continues to have an impact into adulthood. In particular, breastfed children have a lower risk of obesity and resulting illnesses, infectious diseases, especially middle-ear and gastrointestinal infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and allergic diseases. Breastfeeding is also beneficial to mothers’ health, reducing the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and diabetes (read more).
  • Providing ongoing education and training for healthcare staff

Hospitals that meet these criteria and opt to be certified will receive the Baby-Friendly Hospital quality label from UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein for four years. Certified hospitals are regularly audited to ensure compliance with the standards. Certified hospitals are required to keep statistics on each mother-child pair, which allows for both clinic-specific monitoring and cross-hospital comparisons (cross-sectional survey). Trends in general conditions and breastfeeding can also be observed over time (longitudinal survey).

With the food industry’s commitment to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, companies refrain from advertising these products.

If you have any general questions about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative or are interested in applying for certification for your hospital’s maternity department, please contact UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein:

UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein
Nicole Hinder
Pfingstweidstrasse 10
8005 Zurich
Telephone: +41 44 312 22 33
Email: bfhi(at)

For specific questions regarding the content of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, such as on the use of pacifiers, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), etc., please contact the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (SWISS TPH):

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Sonja Merten 
Socinstrasse 57
4051 Basel
Telephone: +41 61 284 83 87
Email: Sonja.Merten(at) 

If your hospital’s maternity department already has the Baby-Friendly Hospital label and you would like to be recertified, please contact the certification body SanaCERT Suisse. SanaCERT Suisse carries out certifications and recertifications on behalf of UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein:

SanaCERT Suisse
Effingerstrasse 55
3008 Bern
Telephone: +41 31 333 72 63
Email: info(at)

For general questions and information on breastfeeding, please contact Breastfeeding Promotion Switzerland:

Breastfeeding Promotion Switzerland
Schwarztorstrasse 87
3007 Bern
Telephone: +41 31 381 49 66
Email: contact(at)stillfö