Current status + progress
Adopting optimal feeding practices is fundamental to a child’s survival, growth and development, but too few children benefit
Proper feeding of infants and young children can increase their chances of survival. It can also promote optimal growth and development, especially in the critical window from birth to 2 years of age. Ideally, infants should be breastfed within one hour of birth, breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of life and continue to be breastfed up to 2 years of age and beyond. Starting at 6 months, breastfeeding should be combined with safe, age-appropriate feeding of solid, semi-solid and soft foods.
Notes on the data
The standard indicators for infant and young child feeding practices developed in alignment with WHO’s Guiding Principles on feeding the breastfed and non-breastfed child are used to assess these practices within and across countries and to evaluate progress in this programme area. The 2021 publication, Indicators for assessing infant and young child feeding practices includes a total of 17 recommended indicators.
This set of indicators provides an update to i) 2008 guide which covered indicator definitions and ii) 2010 guide which covered operational instructions. This edition no longer makes a distinction between core and optional indicators.
Core indicators for infant and young child feeding practices
Data collection and reporting
Data for these indicators are collected through household surveys such as DHS, MICS and other national nutrition surveys. With the exception of 3 indicators; ever breastfed, early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusively breastfed for the first 2 days after birth, the other indicators are based on questions about liquid and food intake of children aged 0─23 months in the 24 hours preceding the survey. Standard questions and other practical methodological instructions for collecting, analyzing and reporting this data are also available in this document.