Baby Café

Baby Café is a thriving network of over 100 drop–in centres helping around 10,000 mums each year across the UK. Expectant and new mums, their babies and partners, family members and friends join for free to benefit from new friendships with other parents, and support and guidance on breastfeeding.

Baby Cafés are run by midwives; health visitors; lactation consultants; nursery nurses, or NCT breastfeeding counsellors who are qualified to Diploma level. They are often supported by breastfeeding peer supporters, general volunteers and family support workers.

Baby Cafés are held weekly and take place in easy access venues such as community centres and church halls. 57% of mums who visit the Baby Café do so more than once and 38% visit five or more times.

The most common reason to visit is for social support followed by positioning and attachment, night time and sleep, sore nipples and hungry baby/milk supply. Women also attend for a variety of other breastfeeding concerns including tongue tie, thrush, mastitis and help with weaning or returning to work. Mums can meet others in an informal environment, share experiences; look at books, leaflets and DVDs and get help on all aspects of breastfeeding and its impact on daily life. At the foundation of Baby Café is respect and support for mums to make their own informed decisions about feeding. One mum attending in 2013 said:

"I found it a warm and nurturing environment. The staff were friendly, empathetic and non-judgemental.  they were clearly experts in their field and very knowledgeable, which is what I needed.  Their support and reassurance helped me to continue breastfeeding for a year."

Helping to meet breastfeeding targets at 6-8 weeks

  • NCT evaluation shows that most women want to breastfeed and of those who give up within the first few weeks through lack of support. 75% would actually have preferred to continue.
  • Baby Café is run on a clear and consistent successful model and meets UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative. The model is flexible enough to deliver to a range of community profiles and appeals to a wide range of families, including those who are considered hard to reach. Baby Café facilitators identify women who need further support and will refer them to other local health and breastfeeding support services. 94% of Baby Cafés reported making recommendations for women to visit another health professional during 2013, whilst 82% made formal direct referrals to GPs, Health Visitors, tongue-tie clinics or other breastfeeding services.  One mum had this to say:

"Not once did I feel like I was failing or that it was never going to get better.  Baby Café empowers - it's as simple as that really!"

See the related documents on the right hand side for more examples of how Baby Café meets specific needs.

Getting started

Baby Café facilitators have access to NCT specialists and a range of resources to help ensure success including templates, audit tools, translated materials, invitations and publicity materials. You can choose to run a Baby Café using your own in-house staff, or opt for the full-service option which can be run by NCT-trained Breastfeeding Counsellors.

 For further information email CommissionedServices@nct.org.uk and one of our Regional Support Managers will contact you.