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.
Some of NI’s support to IYCN programs includes a Micronutrient Powder (MNP) component.
NI’s approach to IYCN in Kenya is to support the Ministry of Health in rolling out the Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI) Implementation Package in 16 counties to support caregivers and their influencers on maternal nutrition, exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding. Point of use fortification, or MNPs, have been introduced in a smaller number of sub-counties to improve the quality of complementary foods for children 6-23 months of age. NI’s IYCN program focuses on strengthening the community health program through the capacity building of Community health volunteers and improving the reporting system.
These activities are being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Health – National Dietetics Unit, the Kenya Red Cross Society, the Center for Behaviour Change and Communication and the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK). This program is being implemented nationally and sub-nationally in the counties of: Bomet, Busia, Kakamega, Bungoma, Kitui, Kwale, Laikipia, Nakuru , Nandi, Trans Nzoia, Vihiga, Kisumu, Homabay, Kilifi, Migori and Narok. NI support to IYCN in Kenya 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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