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The evidence and rationale for the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative standards

In 2012, I started on a journey to collate the evidence that had been used to support the rationale for, and development of, the new Baby Friendly Initiative standards – the result of which is this book.

Its aim is to bring together the considerable body of knowledge and skills, research, practice and policy into one place. The work critically analyses the available evidence and highlights both good practice and gaps in our information.

I hope that the user-friendly format will inspire and motivate you to use this evidence in your day to day work. I have been given the time to think, reflect and collate the information, worked with many of you and explored the narrative – the result of which is a resource to enable you to better support women to provide the best nutrition and build a close and loving relationship with their baby.

This book captures gold standard evidence presented in systematic reviews and metaanalyses of quantitative and qualitative research. Where these are not available, it has drawn on examples of good and emerging best practice. Case studies are used to inspire and motivate ideas for you to create meaningful change at an individual, cultural and societal level within your local community.

I understand the challenges faced by those involved in infant feeding support: it can be difficult to identify the evidence available, work out what is good quality, current and applicable and then critically analyse how best to commission and apply it. I hope this book will go some way to addressing this, and that you will enjoy, quote, pick up and put down, come back to and use it again and again, in your everyday practice to inform your care. The new Baby Friendly Initiative standards have been developed based on the latest research. Evaluation of the standards is going to be required over time to analyse whether this new approach yields results. Understanding the evidence that underpins the standards is one thing, implementing them in a way that creates behavioural change at an individual and societal level requires a co-ordinated approach by us all.

I look forward to your feedback and adding to this body of evidence as new information comes to light. The future of this book’s success lies in it being a truly collaborative document, based on evidence and your experience. In this way, it will help us now, and in the future, to support mothers and babies in the best possible way.