The first Baby Café
In 2000, lactation consultants and health professionals Catherine Pardoe and Julie Williams set up and ran a drop-in centre for breastfeeding mothers in West Sussex within the local NHS Trust with Department of Health Infant Feeding Initiative funding for one year.
From the outset the aim was to create a mainstream service where all mums could access high quality breastfeeding support from a mainstream provider in a relaxed, stylish setting.
The Baby Cafe model was included in the DH NHS Good practice and innovation in breasfeeding guidance (2004) and soon health professionals and mothers in other areas of the country began to make enquiries about using the model in their own area.
In 2006 the Baby Café became a charitable trust.
Those who wanted to set up a Baby Café, using the branding and model, were able to for a small fee. This also entitled them to have their café advertised on the website. Part of this agreement meant that they agreed to maintain the standards and model as detailed in the toolkit.
Today, we still place a high emphasis on maintaning those quality standards, part of which involves using evaluation tools to collect data. We have a team who offer site visits and update days, designed specifically to keep those standards high.
Merger with NCT
2010 saw the Baby Café Charitable Trust begin to merge with the NCT, and this was completed in 2012. Now the Baby Café, although part of NCT, remains as a strong brand synonymous with offering high quality breastfeeding support, free at the point of contact. The merger has meant that the Baby Café is supported by a group of highly qualified individuals, including researchers who have written up evidence showing the strength and durability of the model. Baby Café is now also recognised as best practice by C4EO.