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Infant and Young Child Feeding

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This is a comprehensive online course for health workers, providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary for monitoring and recommending different feeding approaches to mothers, as well as women who are pregnant. 

In this self-paced, free online course, the students will use contextualized knowledge for developing a better understanding of the underlying concepts involved in infant and young child feeding.

The course begins with facts about infant and young child feeding, the significance of IYCF during various phases of a child's life, moving on to complementary feeding, maternal nutrition, IYCF in the context of HIV and IYCF in emergencies, before finally instructing on the approaches and recommendations of WHO and UNICEF, when it comes to healthy feeding practices for infants and young children. 

Employing a take-home approach, the course also features printable flash cards for community health workers that they can take along for the purpose of educating their communities regarding IYCF and safe feeding practices. 

Key Features of the Course

After the completion of the course, the students shall be able to understand:

  • Malnutrition and different types of undernutrition grouped under this umbrella term
  • IYCF and its role in child survival, child growth and child development
  • Breastfeeding, in particular, exclusive breastfeeding, benefits of breastmilk, the anatomy of the human breast, and what defines a good or bad attachment, as well as breastfeeding patterns and hurdles faced by breastfeeding mothers
  • Complementary feeding practices in light of WHO recommendations
  • Maternal malnutrition and strategies to counter such situations through various nutrition-related interventions
  • IYCF in the context of HIV/AIDS, mother-to-child transmission, (MTCT) and recommended IYCF interventions for both HIV-positive and HIV-negative mothers
  • How emergencies impact IYCF and the various intervention strategies, such as relactation and provision of breastmilk substitutes (BMS)


Optimum infant and young child feeding practices are key to child survival, child growth, and child development. These are a pivotal cornerstone of the WHO and UNICEF's global strategy focus on the implementation of maternal, infant and young child nutrition programmes. Undernutrition, apart from direct implications such as stunting and wasting, also contributes to the global burden of disease, as an undernourished child is at a greater risk of developing diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and infections. This course endeavors to develop a profound understanding of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months, complementary feeding practices, maternal health, and nutrition, as well as IYCF in cases of mothers affected by HIV/AIDs, mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), and in emergencies. Some of the major topics discussed in the course are:Malnutrition and associated factorsIYCF and child survival, growth and developmentBreastfeeding, breastmilk and good/bad attachmentsMaternal health and nutritionIYCF in HIV/AIDSIYCF in emergencies
Module 1 covers topics ranging from malnutrition as an umbrella term, as well as undernutrition, micronutrient-related malnutrition, overweight and obesity, and phenomena such as stunting and wasting.
Module 2 discusses the role of IYCF across three phases: child survival, child growth, and child development.
Module 3 is a comprehensive overview discussing breastfeeding practices such as exclusive breastfeeding, breastmilk, the anatomy of the human breast, principles of good and poor attachment, breastfeeding patterns, as well as the problems faced by breastfeeding mothers. 
Module 4 encompasses the discussions regarding complementary feeding, WHO recommendations for complementary feeding and key nutrition-related interventions in a child's life during the first 1000 days. 
Module 5 centres around maternal nutrition needs, maternal malnutrition, and interventions for improvement of maternal health.
Module 6 includes topics such as mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), risk factors for transmission of HIV through breastfeeding, infant nutrition in the context of HIV/AIDS, and recommendations for infant feeding in the case of both HIV-positive and HIV-negative mothers.  
Module 7 discusses the impact of emergencies on IYCF practices, nutrition problems arising during emergencies, and management strategies, including relactation and provision of breastmilk substitutes (BMS). 
Based upon a take-home approach, Module 8 includes printable flash cards for community/health workers. These cards can be used to educate mothers and other members of the community regarding IYCF practices, as well as sanitation and hygiene principles associated with complementary feeding.
Important: In order to access the completion certificate, the students need to complete the feedback, course evaluation and survey forms. Please click on the following links to submit these forms.

How It Works

Study Material

This self-paced course has been designed in a manner that enhances understanding of the core concepts and provides easy to access learning materials. The course uses a range of study material such as pre-recorded videos, lecture slides, quizzes and assignments, and is developed by a team of dedicated health education experts.

Getting Help

Connect with other students through the discussion forum, where you can easily discuss the course or debate the ideas. Need more help? Your instructors are also available online to answer any questions you might have.

Extend Your Career with a Verified Certificate

POLHN self-paced courses are recognised by Pacific Ministries of Health. Once you have successfully completed the course, you will receive an official certificate. This certificate can be used for credit to gain CPD points.

Course Questions & Answers

Course Summary

Course code: IYCF
Average module length: 5 weeks
Total course time: 2 hours per week
Number of modules: 8
Institution: POLHN
Subject: Infant health
Language: English
Mode: Self-paced
Status: Ongoing

Course Author

Pacific NCDs and Health Through the Life Course

Division of Pacific Technical Support

World Health Organisation | Division of Pacific Technical Support | Suva, Fiji

POLHN has dedicated public health professionals in its DPS research team who have decade long experiences in Health Security and Emergencies, NCDs and Health Through the Life course, and Health Systems.

Course Focal Point

Pacific NCDs and Health Through the Life Course

Technical Support

POLHN IT Support Team

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