Mother, Infant and Young Child Nutrition & Malnutrition Mother, Infant and Young Child Nutrition & Malnutrition - Feeding practices including micronutrient deficiencies prevention, control of wasting, stunting and underweight
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About Essential Nutrition Actions at Critical Stages in the Life Cycle of Women and Children

Breastfeeding Resources

Monitoring and Evaluation Tools

Measuring progress in improving infant and young child feeding requires appropriate indicators and instruments to assess current feeding practices and monitor program impact. The M&E tools found here include descriptions of key infant and young child feeding (IYCF) indicators, an IYCF monitoring manual, and questionnaires used in LINKAGES' programs in six countries.

Key Infant and Young Child Feeding Indicators: Definitions and Measurement

Infant and Young Child Feeding Indicators

The main purpose of a common set of indicators is to standardize the assessment and evaluation of breastfeeding behaviours across programs implemented and funded by different organizations. LINKAGES used a common set of infant and young child feeding indicators based on WHO definitions (1991) and Wellstart International's toolkit for monitoring and evaluating breastfeeding activities (1996). These standard indicators have all been field tested prior to application. They are limited in number and fairly easy to measure and interpret. This section of the website defines LINKAGES' primary indicators, provides sample surveys for collecting information used to calculate the rates, and notes the indicators' strengths and limitations.

Infant Feeding Key Indicator Monitoring Manual

Questionnaires on Infant and Young Child Feeding and Related Practices

Questionnaires on Infant and Young Child Feeding and Related Practices

LINKAGES conducted baseline surveys, annual rapid assessment surveys, endline surveys, and special surveys such as media evaluations. The community surveys from Bolivia and Ghana focused on breastfeeding and complementary feeding. The country programs in Ethiopia and Madagascar were in a broader nutrition and child survival context which is reflected in the surveys. In Tanzania and Zambia , infant feeding was integrated within prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programs.

Counselling Cards on Breastfeeding and Related behaviours

The key behaviours that LINKAGES promoted are listed in the chart below. Click on a behaviour for technical information and examples of counselling cards developed by LINKAGES and its country program partners to promote that behaviour. Or scroll down and download all the cards developed in each country.

The cards illustrate different ways messages can be visualized. Illustrations and messages should be adapted for each audience and tested with that audience in the place where they will be used. The adaptation should be based on formative research to identify current behaviours in need of improvement, barriers to the adoption of optimal behaviours, and appeals to use in motivating the target audience to change their behaviours.

The strengths and weaknesses of counselling cards and guidelines for their design and use are discussed in "Tips for Communicators"

"Developing Messages and Materials in Ghana" illustrates the process used for developing breastfeeding messages and counselling materials.

"Promoting Breastfeeding in Madagascar" describes how counselling cards and other types of print materials and electronic media were developed to promote breastfeeding.

Key behaviours

Breastfeeding LAM Complementary Feeding Maternal Nutrition

Early initiation

Exclusive breastfeeding

Attachment and Positioning

Feeding from both breasts

Frequency of feedings

Feeding during illness

Breast milk expression

Family support

Prolonged breastfeeding

Three criteria for use of LAM

Transition to another family planning method

Introduction of complementary foods

Quantity and frequency

Consistency and quality/variety

Responsive feeding

Hygiene and safety

Feeding during illness

Quantity and variety during pregnancy

Quantity and variety during lactation


Counselling Cards by Country (PDF files)


Progress For Children: A Report Card on Nutrition Nutrition and Children video
Progress for Children: Nutrition Photo Essay Progress for Children: Nutrition Interactive Map Progress for Children: Nutrition Full Report 8.5 x 11 Progress for Children: Nutrition Full Report 11 x 17


Infant and Young Child Feeding and Nutrition

Feeding is a critical aspect of caring for infants and young children. Appropriate feeding practices stimulate bonding with the caregiver and psycho-social development. They lead to improved nutrition and physical growth, reduced susceptibility to common childhood infections and better resistance to cope with them. Improved health outcomes in young children have long-lasting health effects throughout the life-span, including increased performance and productivity, and reduced risk of certain non-communicable diseases.

Child Feeding and Nutrition ( 2-5 years age )

Malnutrition contributes to more than half of all childhood deaths, although it is rarely listed as the direct cause. For most children, lack of access to food is not the only cause of malnutrition. Poor feeding practices and infection, or a combination of the two, are both major factors of malnutrition. Infection - particularly frequent or persistent diarrhoea, pneumonia, measles and malaria - undermines nutritional status. Poor feeding practices, such as inadequate breastfeeding, offering the wrong foods, giving insufficient quantities, and not ensuring that the child gets enough food, contribute to malnutrition.

Malnourished children are, in turn, more vulnerable to disease and the vicious circle is established.

Improved feeding practices to prevent or treat malnutrition could save 800,000 lives per year.

  • Counselling for mothers and caretakers
  • Micronutrient supplements
  • Management of severe malnutrition

Adolescent Nutrition

Adolescence represents a window of opportunity to prepare for a healthy adult life. During adolescence, nutritional problems originating earlier in life can potentially be corrected, in addition to addressing current ones. It is also a timely period to shape and consolidate healthy eating and lifestyle behaviours, thereby preventing or postponing the onset of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adulthood.

As adolescents have a low prevalence of infections such as pneumonia and gastroenteritis compared with younger children, and of chronic disease compared with ageing people, they have generally been given little health and nutrition attention, except for reproductive health concerns. However, there are nutritional issues, which are adolescent-specific, and which call for specific strategies and approaches.

The main issues in adolescent nutrition are:

  • Micronutrient deficiencies (iron deficiency and anaemia)
  • Malnutrition and stunting
  • Obesity and other nutrition-related chronic diseases
  • Adolescents eating patterns and lifestyles
  • Nutrition in relation to early pregnancy


Initiation of Breastfeeding by Breast Crawl

Breast Crawl

Initiation of Breastfeeding by Breast Crawl

visit for video and complete dossier.

UNICEF, WHO and WABA along with the scientific community strongly recommend initiating breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
Evidence shows that early initiation can prevent 22% of all deaths among babies below one month in developing countries.

Every newborn, when placed on the mother's abdomen, soon after birth, has the ability to find its mother's breast all on its own and to decide when to take the first breastfeed. This is called the "Breast Crawl".

This method is evidence based and has been field tested by us. A documentary on the "Breast Crawl" has been prepared for training, advocacy and for wider dissemination. The video has created a very high level of sensitivity among all the levels of functionaries and was officially endorsed by senior policy makers as the right approach for initiating breastfeeding. This dossier provides the background and a scientific overview to the documentary.

We are sure that this documentary and dossier will greatly help similar initiatives worldwide. It is our strong desire that this information helps every mother and baby to experience the miracle of Breast Crawl. If we all could achieve early initiation of breastfeeding, we will be able to prevent 22% of all deaths among babies below 1 month.

This can be achieved by training all health care providers to initiate breastfeeding, by Breast Crawl, to give infants the best start in life.


Breastfeeding. The Essence of Life   Posters: Breastfeeding. The Essence of Life  438 kb

What everyone should know about breastfeeding*

“Improved breastfeeding alone could save the lives of more than 3,500 children every day, more than any other preventive intervention”

Innocenti Declaration 2005 on Infant and Young Child Feeding © UNICEF

* Based on Facts for Life, published by UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNAIDS, WFP and the World Bank
Breastfeeding. The Essence of Life   Breastfeeding. The Essence of Life


Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding

Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding
Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feedingpdf 440 kb - 37 pages

WHO and UNICEF jointly developed the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding to revitalize world attention to the impact that feeding practices have on the nutritional status, growth and development, health, and thus the very survival of infants and young children.

The Global Strategy is based on the evidence of nutrition's significance in the early months and years of life, and of the crucial role that appropriate feeding practices play in achieving optimal health outcomes. Lack of breastfeeding - and especially lack of exclusive breastfeeding during the first half-year of life - are important risk factors for infant and childhood morbidity and mortality that are only compounded by inappropriate complementary feeding. The life-long impact includes poor school performance, reduced productivity, and impaired intellectual and social development.


Facts for LifeFacts for Life

Author: UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNAIDS, WFP and the World Bank
Publication date: April 2010
Languages: English French Spanish

The fourth edition of Facts for Life contains essential information that families and communities need to know to raise healthy children. This handbook provides practical advice on pregnancy, childbirth, childhood illnesses, child development and the care of children. This edition also features a new chapter on child protection. The book is intended for parents, families, health workers, teachers, youth groups, women’s groups, community organizations, government officials, employers, trade unions, media, and non-governmental and faith-based organizations.


Dr. R. K. Anand's Guide to Child Care: For pregnant mothers and parents of infants, young children, and teenagers

Dr. R. K. Anand's Guide to Child Care

This guide is for pregnant mothers and  parents of infants, young children, and teenagers. A definitive guide to the parent on pregnancy and childrearing from infancy to the teenage years. Authored by one of India's foremost paediatricians and an internationally renowned authority on breastfeeding, the book combines a knowledge of traditional childrearing practices with the latest medical developments in child care.

Dr. Anand's Guide to Child Care answers questions such as:

  • Is there a right age to have a baby?

  • What can I do when my baby cries?

  • Can a working mother successfully breastfeed?

  • How helpful is a joint family in bringing up children?

  • How should we handle our fussy eater?

  • Is my child ready for toilet-training?

  • Are vaccines safe?

  • When is the right age for sex education?

  • How can I raise a happy child?

  • Are drugs overprescribed for childhood illnesses?

  • How should we handle our teenager?

  • What should I do in a medical emergency?


National Guidelines on Infant and Young Child Feeding - Aug 2004

National Guidelines on Infant and Young Child Feeding


Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Women and Child Development, Food and Nutrition Board, Government of India
August 2004

37 pages - National Guidelines on Infant and Young Child Feeding - Aug 2004 in pdf formatpdf 936 kb


National Guidelines on Infant Feeding

National Guidelines on Infant Feeding


Food and Nutrition Board, Department of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India.

17 pages - National Guidelines on Infant Feeding in pdf formatpdf 2.5 mb

WHO Resources

Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD)

Reproductive Health and Research (RHR




Guidelines and Training

Monitoring and Evaluation


Other Resources

6 March, 2016

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