What does IYCF mean? What is the full form of IYCF?

The Full Form of IYCF is‍ Infant and Young Child Feeding.

Undernutrition is estimated to be associated with 2.7 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths. Infant and young child feeding is a key area to improve child survival and promote healthy growth and development. The first 2 years of a child’s life are particularly important, as optimal nutrition during this period lowers morbidity and mortality, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and fosters better development overall.

Optimal breastfeeding is so critical that it could save the lives of over 820 000 children under the age of 5 years each year.

WHO and UNICEF recommend:

  • early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth;
  • exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life; and
  • introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

However, many infants and children do not receive optimal feeding. For example, only about 44% of infants aged 0–6 months worldwide were exclusively breastfed over the period of 2015-2020.

Recommendations have been refined to also address the needs for infants born to HIV-infected mothers. Antiretroviral drugs now allow these children to exclusively breastfeed until they are 6 months old and continue breastfeeding until at least 12 months of age with a significantly reduced risk of HIV transmission.

  • Every infant and child has the right to good nutrition according to the “Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
  • Undernutrition is associated with 45% of child deaths.
  • Globally in 2019, 144 million children under 5 were estimated to be stunted (too short for age), 47 million were estimated to be wasted (too thin for height), and 38.3 million were overweight or obese.
  • About 44% of infants 0–6 months old are exclusively breastfed.
  • Few children receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods; in many countries less than a fourth of infants 6–23 months of age meet the criteria of dietary diversity and feeding frequency that are appropriate for their age.
  • Over 820 000 children’s lives could be saved every year among children under 5 years, if all children 0–23 months were optimally breastfed. Breastfeeding improves IQ, school attendance, and is associated with higher income in adult life. (1)
  • Improving child development and reducing health costs through breastfeeding results in economic gains for individual families as well as at the national level.



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