The first 1000 days from conception to two years of age are critical to the health and development of a child. Adequate infant and young child nutrition (IYCN) is crucial for survival and long-term health and well-being. Approximately 45% of deaths of children under five years of age can be attributed to malnutrition , and are often associated with inappropriate feeding practices during the first years of life . The first two years of life provide a critical window of opportunity for ensuring children’s appropriate growth and development through optimal feeding. Many countries experience a sharp increase in the prevalence of malnutrition for this age group.
NI supports countries to implement their IYCN program in line with WHO/UNICEF recommended IYCF practices. This includes the timely initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding to the age of six months, introduction of solid, semi-solid and soft foods at 6 months of age and continued breastfeeding until 24 months of age, recommended minimum meal frequency and dietary diversity. NI also supports recommended practices such as responsive feeding, hand washing with clean water and soap, and safe food preparation and storage.
In India, NI’s approach to IYCN is to demonstrate a model for improved community IYCN practices in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. Specifically, NI aims to show the link between the prevention and treatment of child under-nutrition as a ‘continuum of care’. There are two areas of focus: (i) Appropriate IYCF practices to prevent children going into moderate acutre malnutrition (MAM) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM); and (ii) Ensuring treated children (who have ‘graduated’ from the different grades of malnutrition) do not sink back again into malnourishment. NI has a dedicated team that support activities that build the capacity of government service providers and managers; improve awareness through appropriate BCI; and improve reporting by strengthening monitoring and review through joint visits and meetings.
This project is being implemented sub-nationally in two districts: Basti, in the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Dahod, in the State of Gujarat. These activities are being implemented with respective state governments. NI support to IYCN in India began in 2016 and is ongoing.
 Black RE et al. Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries. The Lancet. 2013; 382(9890):427-451
 Sankar MJ, et al. Optimal breastfeeding practices and infant and child mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatr. 2015 Dec;104(467):3-13
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