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Infant and Young Child Feeding




Infant health




Gain the knowledge to track and recommend different infant feeding approaches.

In this self-paced program by POLHN, you will use contextual and relevant examples to understand the underlying concepts involved in infant and young child feeding.

This breastfeeding training course online begins with facts about infant and young child feeding. It then moves onto complementary feeding, HIV transmission risks and infant feeding. Finally, students will learn the approaches and WHO recommendation for healthy feeding practices.

This is a comprehensive online course for health workers. It aims to provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary for monitoring and recommending different feeding approaches to new and expectant mothers. In this free online course, students will use contextual knowledge to develop a better understanding of breastfeeding. The course begins with facts about infant and young child feeding and the significance of IYCF during various phases of a child's life. It moves on to complementary feeding, maternal nutrition, IYCF in the context of HIV and IYCF in emergencies. Finally, it presents approaches and recommendations given by WHO and UNICEF for healthy feeding practices of infants. Employing a take-home approach, this free online breastfeeding training also provides printable flashcards for community health workers. These flashcards can be used to educate communities about IYCF and safe feeding practices.

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

  • Malnutrition and different types of undernutrition grouped under this umbrella term;
  • IYCF and its role in child survival, growth and 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; and
  • How emergencies impact IYCF and the various intervention strategies, such as relactation and provision of breastmilk substitutes (BMS).

Getting Started

Optimum infant and young child feeding practices are key to survival, growth, and development of the child. These are a cornerstone of UNICEF's global strategy focus on the maternal, infant and young child nutrition programmes. Undernutrition has direct implications such as stunting and wasting. But it also contributes to the global burden of disease. An undernourished child is at a greater risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This breastfeeding course online free aims to develop a profound understanding of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child's life. It also talks about complementary feeding practices, maternal health, and nutrition. IT also IYCF in cases of HIV-positive mothers, mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), and in emergencies. Some of the major topics discussed in the course are;

  • Malnutrition and associated factors;
  • IYCF and child survival, growth and development;
  • Breastfeeding;
  • Breastmilk and good/bad attachments;
  • Maternal health and nutrition;
  • IYCF in HIV/AIDS; and
  • IYCF in emergencies.
Module - 1: Malnutrition: The Essentials
Module 1 defines malnutrition and its different types and categories. It explains malnutrition as an umbrella term. It covers undernutrition, micronutrient-related malnutrition, overweight and obesity. The module also explains how malnutrition leads to phenomena such as stunting and wasting. It also sets the basis for why breastfeeding is an important tool in the fight against malnutrition.
Module - 2: Role of IYCF in Child Survival, Growth and Development
Module 2 discusses the role of IYCF across three phases: child survival, child growth, and child development. The first 2 years of a child’s life are critical, and they define the future health and quality of life of the child. This module explains the importance of proper nutrition during infancy and the prominent role it plays in infant growth.
Module - 3: Breastfeeding

Module 3 is a comprehensive overview discussing breastfeeding basics such as;

  • Exclusive breastfeeding;
  • Breastmilk;
  • Anatomy of the human breast;
  • Principles of good and poor attachment;
  • Breastfeeding patterns; and
  • Problems faced by breastfeeding mothers.

Breastfeeding has great benefits for both the child and the mother. It provides the child with long-standing nutritional benefits, physical as well as cognitive. For the mother, it reduces the risks of breast and ovarian cancer. This module delves into the short and long term benefits of breastfeeding during infancy. It also talk about why breastfeeding is better than formulas.

Module - 4: Complementary Feeding

Module 4 discusses complementary feeding. It presents guidelines for nutrition-related interventions in a child's life during the first 1000 days. It also present WHO recommendations about complementary feeding.

At 6 months, an infant’s nutritional needs become more than can be met with breastmilk alone. To fill this nutrient gap, the infant needs complementary foods. This module of the breastfeeding course for healthcare providers focuses on providing the right type of complementary foods. It also focuses on providing the infant with complementary feed at the right intervals, and in the right amounts.

Module - 5: Nutrition for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers
Module 5 focuses on breastfeeding mothers and their nutritional needs. It highlights the reasons and symptoms of maternal malnutrition. It also presents guidelines for improvement of maternal health. New mothers have higher nutritional needs. Whatever they eat defines the nutrient composition of their breastmilk. Malnourishment during lactation can lead to bad health of both the mother and the infant. This module elaborates the nutritional and caloric needs of lactating mothers, and how to complete them.
Module - 6: IYCF in the Context of HIV/AIDS

Infant feeding for mothers with HIV can be complex, as there is a high risk of transmission from the mother to the child. Module 6 focuses on;

  • 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.

HIV-positive mothers can breastfeed if they take antiretroviral drugs. This module further explains the risks associated with breastfeeding for HIV-positive mothers. It also highlights the nutritional deficits that may their child may suffer if they choose not to. This module expounds on the recommendations for reducing the risk of transmission from mother to child.

Module - 7: IYCF in Emergencies
Module 7 discusses the impact of emergencies on IYCF practices, nutrition problems arising during emergencies, and management strategies. For example, relactation and provision of breastmilk substitutes (BMS). "Emergencies" is a broad term. It covers natural disasters, mass population displacements, and emergencies due to human conflicts. In any of these cases, the nutritional needs of infants and new mothers cannot be ignored. This module of the breastfeeding course for nurses covers the reasons for the critical nature of infant care and feeding in emergencies.
Module - 8: IYCF and Community Workers
POLHN works towards improving healthcare systems in communities at large. Based upon a take-home approach, Module 8 includes printable flashcards for community/health workers. These cards can be used to educate mothers and other members of the community about IYCF practices, as well as sanitation and hygiene principles associated with complementary feeding.

Pacific NCDs and Health Through the Life course

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 System
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Course Questions & Answers

Can't find the answers you're looking for? Get in touch with POLHN! Contact us here and we will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.
Yes, this course has recommended and additional readings. These can all be easily accessed on Moodle.
There is no time limit for completing this course. POLHN recommends spending about 4 hours per week over the period of 6 weeks.
Once you enrol yourself into this course on Moodle you will have access to all the lectures and assignments.
Once you successfully complete your course by completing all the modules and passing all the assessment, your certificate will be automatically generated and sent to your email. You can also access all your certificates through our online certificate verification system here: If you are having any problems accessing your certificate, simply email us at and we will help you.

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.

Request more info

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

Infant and Young Child Feeding

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