2. Infant and young child feeding
Suboptimal infant and young child feeding practices increase vulnerability to undernutrition, disease and death. The risks are heightened in disasters and the youngest are most vulnerable. Optimal feeding practices that maximise survival and reduce morbidity in children under 24 months are early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for 6months, continued breastfeeding to 24 months or beyond, and introduction of adequate, appropriate and safe complementary foods at 6 months.
IYCF (infant and young child feeding) is concerned with interventions to protect and support the nutritional needs of both breastfed and non-breastfed infants and young children. Priority interventions include breastfeeding protection and support, minimising the risks of artificial feedingand enabling appropriate and safe complementary feeding. Infants and young children in exceptionally difficult circumstances, such as HIV-prevalent populations, orphans, low birth weight (LBW) infants and those severely malnourished, warrant particular attention. Protection and support of the nutritional, physical and mental health of both pregnant and breastfeeding women are central to the well-being of the mother and child. The particular needs of caregivers who are grandparents, single fathers or siblings must be considered. Cross-sector engagement is essential to protect and meet adequately and in time the broader nutritional needs of infants and young children and their mothers. IYCF is integral to many of the standards in this chapter and overlaps in other chapters.