Advocacy, Global Midwifery

Ten Things about The Ten Steps

You are probably familiar with The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.  Here are ten things you might not have known about the Ten Steps.

  1. The ten steps were first published by WHO/UNICEF in 1989 in a document titled Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding.
  2. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was launched in 1991 to ensure every maternity facility in the world would follow these then steps.
  3. Avoidance of marketing breastmilk substitutes is not included in the ten steps. For a hospital to be accredited as Baby-Friendly they must also follow the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.
  4. Although the Ten Steps were based on evidence, the original document was meant to guide action and evaluation of programs. It did not include the evidence. In 1998, WHO published a follow-up document Evidence for the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
  5. In 2009, WHO released a revised and updated document about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative that includes a training course for decision-makers and a course for hospital staff.
  6. In 2009, WHO also released a model chapter on breastfeeding for health care textbooks which included a section on the Ten Steps and importance of policy and staff training to ensure breastfeeding success.
  7. As of 2013, 152 countries have initiated the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
  8. WHO posts statistics on infant and young child feeding by country, so you can see the progress in breastfeeding (from the Ten Steps and other initiatives) in your region. The statistics available vary by country and demonstrate a need for a standard monitoring data set.
  9. You can search for current clinical trials on the Ten Steps at the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform.
  10. Supporting the Ten Steps supports all eight of the Millennium Development Goals.


Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)