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SJHH / Health Services/ Women's & Infants'/ Baby-Friendly Initiative

Baby-Friendly Initiative

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is a Baby-Friendly designated hospital

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) has been a Baby-Friendly designated hospital since 2003. Baby-Friendly means that we protect, promote, and support breastfeeding as well as safe infant feeding practices. This also means that the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of not breastfeeding are presented and discussed to help make informed decisions.
As a baby-Friendly organization, we encourage breastfeeding anywhere and anytime.
We support breastfeeding as normal for everyone.

Over 90% of women having their babies at our hospital plans to breastfeed. Please talk to your health care provider about the benefits of breastfeeding and review our list of resources provided below.

More about Baby-Friendly:

Baby-Friendly is a world-wide initiative started by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. There are many things that influence a woman’s choice of what method of infant feeding to use. Some of these are:

  • the attitudes and beliefs of the people around her
  • personal experience
  • receiving complete or incomplete information about the choices available before making a decision

How this helps:

Our goal is to help each family make an informed decision after receiving all of the facts about newborn feeding methods. Then a family can confidently make a choice they are comfortable with.

We follow the recommendations set by the World Health Organization, Health Canada and the Canadian Pediatric Society which include:

  • babies have breastmilk only for about 6 months
  • babies are also offered nutritious solid food from 6 months on
  • babies should continue to breastfeed for 2 years and beyond

No matter what decision you make about infant feeding, we believe that all families should have the benefit of:

  • Getting enough information to make decisions about infant feeding
  • Skin-to-skin care starting right after birth - Click here for skin-to-skin video
  • Zero separation which means mothers, fathers, partners and babies are never separated unless needed for a medical reason

Watch the video below to learn more about Megan's skin-to-skin experience and how she got her precious moment with her beautiful little newborn:

Our Infant Feeding Policies - our pledge to families 

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s infant feeding policy encourages members of the health care team to help families make well informed decisions about infant feeding. The policy guides us to help you be successful breastfeeding your infant. The policy is summarized in the resource called Our Pledge to Families and posted on the units - click below to download a copy of this pledge in your preferred language.
English | French | Arabic | Somali | Spanish 

The Policy includes:

  • During pregnancy all families are given information about infant feeding options to be able to make an informed decision on how to feed your baby.
  • All infants are placed skin-to-skin after birth and breastfeeding usually starts within 30 minutes when mom and baby are medically stable.
  • Mothers deciding to breastfeed are supported by hospital staff to help you feel confident in feeding your baby.
  • All mothers and babies stay together at all times during the hospital stay unless there is a medical reason.
  • Mothers deciding to formula feed are given support and information on how to safely feed their baby.
  • Samples of breast milk substitutes (formula) are not given to families to take home.
  • All mothers will be given information on where to get help with feeding after you leave the hospital.

For your information, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton:

  • is an organization that continually develops and supports a culture that promotes breastfeeding
  • works with the community to support families with infant feeding
  • does not permit any advertising or other displays sponsored by manufacturers of breastmilk substitutes
  • your care team is made up of physicians, midwives, lactation consultants, nurses and support staff who have all been educated on their role and the hospitals commitment to the Baby-Friendly Initiative.

As well, the St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s purchasing policies comply with the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes. Canada, as a member of the World Health Assembly, signed and adopted the Code in 1981:

  • This Code directs hospitals and health care providers to make informed decisions about the purchase and use of breast milk substitutes (formula) based on clinical research rather than advertising claims.
  • This Code supports families to make informed decisions and emphasizes that families choosing to give formula receive accurate information and a quality product, correctly labelled.
  • As a result of this Code, SJHH does not provide marketing information or samples to families.


Additional Resources

You can explore the following links for more information about feeding your baby:


We ask that you do not bring any valuables with you as the hospital cannot be responsible for lost or stolen personal items.