Nutrition

Promoting proper feeding for infants and young children

The challenge

first skin-to-skin contact
WHO/NHD
Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life

Malnutrition is responsible, directly or indirectly for about one third of deaths among children under five. Well above two thirds of these deaths, often associated with inappropriate feeding practices, occur during the first year of life.

Nutrition and nurturing during the first years of life are both crucial for life-long health and well-being. In infancy, no gift is more precious than breastfeeding; yet barely one in three infants is exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life.

The response

The World Health Organization recommends that infants start breastfeeding within one hour of life, are exclusively breastfed for six months, with timely introduction of adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.

Promoting sound feeding practices is one of the main programme areas that the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development focuses on. Activities include the production of sound, evidence-based technical information, development of guidelines and counselling courses, provision of guidance for the protection, promotion and support of infant and young child feeding at policy, health service and community levels, production of appropriate indicators and maintenance of a Global Data Bank on Infant and Young Child Feeding.

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