Breastfeeding: Information for employers

Breastfeeding Friendly Health Departments

Completing some or all of the steps to being a Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department lends credibility and visibility to local public health agencies and demonstrates their support for new mothers and families.

Become a Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department

Local public health agencies and tribal health boards are eligible for recognition as a Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.

  • To be eligible for recognition at the Bronze level, a health department must demonstrate completion of Step One, Step Two, and any three additional steps, for a total of five steps
  • To be eligible for recognition at the Silver level, a health department must demonstrate completion of the requirements for Bronze level recognition, plus completion of any two additional steps
  • To be eligible for recognition at the Gold level, a health department must demonstrate completion of all Ten Steps

Ten steps for breastfeeding friendly health departments*

The Ten Steps for Breastfeeding Friendly Health Departments provide a framework for health departments seeking to strengthen their ability to promote and support breastfeeding.

  1. Establish a designated individual/group to lead the effort become a breastfeeding-friendly health department.
  2. Have a written breastfeeding policy.
  3. Coordinate support and promotion to establish breastfeeding as the “norm” in the community.
  4. Collaborate with community partners to ensure access to breastfeeding classes.
  5. Educate the community on breastfeeding support.
  6. Encourage racially and ethnically diverse resources within the community.
  7. Support mothers in initiating and maintaining breastfeeding for 12 months and beyond. 
  8. Encourage local public places to provide a breastfeeding-friendly environment.
  9. Select businesses each year and provide workplace lactation support training.
  10. Facilitate access to information and training for local childcare centers to support breastfeeding.

Recognition at any level lasts five years, after which health departments will need to submit an application to renew their recognition status. Health departments are invited to apply for an increase in status (to Silver or Gold level recognition) at any time.

Applying for Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department recognition

Application for recognition as a Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department

Applications are reviewed once annually in August. Application materials are accepted at any time, but must be submitted by July 15 for review that calendar year. Applications are reviewed by a committee comprised of individuals from the Minnesota Department of Health, local public health agencies, and the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition.

Upon approval for recognition, applicants will receive a printable electronic certificate and a digital logo that can be used on the health department website or in promotional materials. A sample media and internal newsletter template will also be provided, and “Breastfeeding Friendly Recognized” window clings will be available for order. Newly designated BFHDs will be acknowledged at the annual Community Health Conference held each fall.

Email questions about the recognition program or application process to

* The Ten Steps were developed by Bonnie Brueshoff, Director of Public Health in Dakota County, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for her Doctor of Nursing Practice and were created in partnership with ten pilot sites in rural, suburban and urban Minnesota.

Updated Monday, April 23, 2018 at 09:25AM