Breastfeeding: Just 10 steps - the baby-friendly way

The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week from 4 to 10 October is: "Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps - the Baby-Friendly Way". What are meant are the 10 steps to achieve "baby-friendly maternity facilities", a quality initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The initiative gives maternity facilities recommendations for accompanying and supporting mothers and their newborn babies. This is because mothers who are properly shown how to breastfeed and supported from the very outset are less prone to breastfeeding problems later on and breastfeed for longer. This benefits above all the babies who are given a healthy start to life. With this World Breastfeeding Week the National Breastfeeding Committee within the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) looks back on more than 15 years dedicated to promoting breastfeeding in Germany.

Based on the 10-point programme of WHO and UNICEF, the BfR National Breastfeeding Committee has elaborated recommendations to encourage breastfeeding in maternity facilities. This year’s World Breastfeeding Week has prompted the Committee to review 15 years of promoting breastfeeding in Germany.

Between 90 and 95 percent of infants are breastfed in Germany during the first days after they are born. This means a good start to life for the around 700,000 children who see the light of day in Germany every year. The National Breastfeeding Committee and all other stakeholders who actively encourage breastfeeding in Germany and support breastfeeding mothers all agree that infants should be exclusively breastfed at least up to the beginning of the fifth month. Data surveys from recent years in Bavaria and Berlin, however, reveal that the breastfeeding rate already drops to 70 percent after only two months and to 60 percent after four months. Only about 50 and 40 percent of infants are exclusively breastfed at the age of two and four months respectively.

These figures illustrate that the journey doesn’t just involve ten steps but is much longer. In addition to in-patient support, it’s about fostering networking between breastfeeding promotion efforts and “early assistance” for a healthy diet from the very beginning in order to ensure that in Germany, in future, breastfeeding becomes a matter of course for mothers of infants who are older than two months, too.

In its dedicated section on the BfR website the National Breastfeeding Committee offers information about all aspects of breastfeeding for mothers, parents and qualified staff. Furthermore, it publishes information leaflets about breastfeeding in six different languages which are available free-of-charge from the secretariat of the Nationale Stillkommission am Bundesintitut für Risikobewertung, Thielallee 88-92, 14195 Berlin,

About BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). It advises the federal government and federal Länder on questions of food, chemical and product safety. BfR engages in research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

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