How to motivate and support improved practices in Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) in Northern Nigeria

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This briefing outlines findings from operations research to support the refinement of the infant and young child feeding (IYCF) strategy implemented by the Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINNN) programme.

Key research findings include:

  • The concept of food groups, the unique benefits of feeding foods from each food group and the classification of foods into specific food groups is foreign
  • Both cost and health considerations have an important influence on the decisions made about what foods to feed 6-23 month old infants
  • The IYCF recommendations, in the short term, were feasible to put into practice; and led to improved complementary feeding practices
  • The mothers valued, trusted and appreciated the support given via three face-to-face discussions with a research assistant
  • Mothers were motivated to try out the recommended IYCF practices by a desire to improve their infant’s health
  • Their motivation to continue practicing the IYCF recommendations was further enhanced when, after practicing the IYCF recommendations, they saw that their infant accepted and liked the new practices
  • The initially perceived key barriers to practicing the IYCF recommendations was the availability and affordability of the foods/soap
  • Other barriers were a misperception that young infants are unable to eat the amount or types of food recommended
  • Social support was the most important enabler for successful practices
  • Other enablers included environmental changes and having their own business.
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