High-quality nutrition in a child’s early years is essential for healthy growth and development and achieving a strong start in life. In fact, research shows that well-nourished young children are better prepared to perform in school and to reach their full potential.

Yet around the world, more than 165 million children under five are stunted as a result of malnutrition. Fifty-two million of them are so thin that they require special treatment. Far too many children, including millions in Asia, face a daily challenge in achieving optimal nutrition, often as a result of their families lacking sufficient knowledge, information or resources.

The challenge of providing optimal infant and young child nutrition is complex and multi-faceted. Some of the best solutions include protecting and promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life.

After the sixth month, when breast milk alone is not able to meet the nutritional needs of infants, it is important that parents introduce appropriate, safe and nutritious food to their children’s diets.

All parents want to provide their children with the best nutrition available, based on their individual circumstances. Critically, mothers need to know the facts about optimal infant and young child nutrition, so they can make informed choices to do what is best for their children, in consultation with healthcare professionals.

Countless babies around the world have thrived on infant formula, and when mothers choose not to breast feed, only do so partially, or are unable to breast feed, they should have access to suitable and safe alternatives – infant formula or special, therapeutic foods for malnourished infants.

We believe that every infant and young child deserves high quality, nutritious and safe food for the best nutritional start in life. APIYCNA’s members stand ready to share their knowledge, expertise, insights and resources with stakeholders to identify nutritional issues and to devise relevant policy frameworks to ensure that as many children as possible get the best nutritional start in life.

The bottom line is this – when children do well, families thrive. That is why our industry’s products include all the essential nutrients for healthy growth and support the key areas of development in early childhood.

Useful links and resources:

Composition of Follow-Up Formula for Young Children Aged 12–36 Months – This is a review of global data on nutrient intakes of young children aged 12-36 months and on dietary intake performed by the Nutrition Association of Thailand (NAT) and the Early Nutrition Academy in 2015.

Nutrition and Health Status of Children in South East Asia – In 2009, the South East Asian Nutrition Survey (SEANUTS), was conducted to improve insight on the current nutritional status of children between the ages of six months and 12 years in selected Southeast Asian countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Results from SEANUTS highlight how regional differences, a double burden of malnutrition and vitamin D deficiency are increasingly problematic.

Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health – The United Nations is driving the move to improve the health of women and children around the world and is making the push to build a collective resolve to ensure universal access to essential health services and proven, life-saving interventions as work is done to strengthen health systems. The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health meets this challenge head on. It sets out the key areas where action is urgently required to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service delivery.

Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding – The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding aims to revitalize efforts to promote, protect and support appropriate infant and young child feeding. It builds upon past initiatives, in particular the Innocenti Declaration and the Baby-friendly Hospital initiative and addresses the needs of all children including those living in difficult circumstances, such as infants of mothers living with HIV, low-birth-weight infants and infants in emergency situations.

Scaling Up Nutrition – Scaling Up Nutrition, or SUN, is a unique Movement founded on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. It unites people—from governments, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers—in a collective effort to improve nutrition.

1,000 Days – 1,000 Days is an advocacy hub that champions new investment and partnerships to improve nutrition during the critical 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and a child’s 2nd birthday as a way to achieve long-term progress in global health and development.

Accelerating Equitable Achievement of the MDGs: Closing Gaps in Health and Nutrition Outcomes – This report is the sixth in the series published by ADB, ESCAP and UNDP on the Millennium Development Goals achievement in Asia and the Pacific region.

Indonesia Demographic and Health Survey 2012

Proceedings of the 3rd Expert Consultation and Planning Meeting on Infant and Young Child Nutrition Part 1 – During the 2nd ILSI SEA Region Expert Consultation and Planning Meeting in 2011, the following information gaps were identified: (i) Some Southeast Asian countries did not have data on infant and young child feeding (IYCF) indicators; (ii) There is a need to know the reasons for the disparities in duration of breastfeeding, age of giving complementary foods, and other breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in Southeast Asian populations; (iii) Optimal complementary feeding practices that are most suitable in the context of Southeast Asia need to be identified. This report presents highlights from a literature review regarding the above topics. Findings from nationwide surveys and small scale studies were compiled to provide a snapshot of the state of infant and young child feeding practices in the region. Results for Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam are presented here.

Proceedings of the 3rd Expert Consultation and Planning Meeting on Infant and Young Child Nutrition Part 2 – The Infant and Early Childhood Nutrition Task Force, International Life Sciences Institute Southeast Asia (ILSI SEA) Region, organised the 1st and 2nd Expert Consultation and Planning Meeting on Infant and Early Childhood Nutrition in 2009 and 2011, respectively. The goal of the consultations was “to generate and promote relevant science-based information that will help improve nutritional status, growth and development of infants and young children in Southeast Asia.”