Govt reiterates national guidelines on infant feeding

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The objectives of the National Guidelines on IYCF are to bring about improvement in optimal feeding practices for infants

As per the National Guidelines on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health and thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Infant milk substitute or infant food should only be used, if recommended on health grounds.

The  objectives  of  the  National   Guidelines  on  IYCF  are  to bring about improvement in optimal  feeding practices for infants and young children and raise awareness for  achieving  optimal   feeding  practices.

The following steps have been taken by Government to ensure Infant and Young Child Feeding: 

  • Infant  Milk  Substitutes  Feeding  Bottles,  and  Infant  Foods  (Regulation  of  Production,    Supply  and  Distribution) Act,  1993,  as  amended  2003,  has  been  enacted  in  the  country  to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and ensure proper use of infant foods.
  • Under the Anganwadi Services Scheme, counselling is provided to Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers on infant and young child feeding practices.
  • The  Pradhan  Mantri   Matru  Vandana  Yojana (PMMVY),  which  is  a  centrally  sponsored  Conditional Maternity  Benefit  scheme  of  the Government  for  pregnant  and  lactating  women, under  which cash  incentives  are  provided partly  compensating  for  their  wage  loss  to improve  health seeking behaviour amongst the Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers. Recent amendment in Maternity Benefit Act is another important step in strengthening the IYCF practices. 
  • The POSHAN  Abhiyaan focuses on social  and behavioural  change communication and thus explicitly  paving  the  way  for  a  mass  movement  to  promote  a  transformative  change, to  address  the  malnutrition  related  challenges  and create awareness on holistic nutrition including promotion of optimal  infant and young child feeding  practices.
  • Early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding for first six months and appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices are promoted under Mothers’ Absolute Affection (MAA) in convergence with Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Days (VHSNDs) are observed for provision of maternal and child health services and creating awareness on maternal and child care in convergence with Ministry of Women and Child Development. Health and nutrition education through mass and social media is also promoted to improve healthy practices and to generate demand for service uptake.
  • Revised Mother and Child Protection Card is the joint initiative of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the Ministry of Woman and Child Development. It is an effective counselling tool for use of front line workers to address the nutrition concerns and improving IYCF practices in children.

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