Breast milk is of immense value for every newborn regardless of whether the infant is healthy, sick or premature. Nutrition in breast milk is tailored to the needs of every individual child. Moreover, breast milk contains anti-inflammatory components aiding the infant in building its own immune response. Because breastfeeding is an interactive process the infant helps determine the composition and volume of the milk. The close contact between mother and child during breastfeeding promotes mother–infant bonding. Access to breastfeeding or breast milk needs to be unrestricted, not just for the newborn but also for the older baby.
Many hospital routines are not necessarily contributing to a breastfeeding-friendly environment. Although the “Ten steps to successful breastfeeding” are aimed towards healthy term newborns, inhospital strategies can be developed to extend this WHO/UNICEF programme towards sick or premature children. The “Ten steps to successful breastfeeding” will be presented and an overview of possible hurdles as experienced in Dutch hospitals will be discussed. Small adjustments in routine care may result in major support for breastfeeding mothers and babies.