Complementary Feeding Bowl
Globally, 1 in 3 children under 5 are not growing well due to malnutrition. UNICEF and partners are developing a Complementary Feeding Bowl as a practical, frugal innovation to ensure good feeding practices continue in the home.
Globally, 1 in 3 children under 5 are not growing well due to malnutrition and 1 in 2 suffers from hidden hunger, undermining the capacity of millions of children to grow and develop to their full potential.*
Poor quality diets drive malnutrition and almost half of all children are not eating a balanced diet with fruit, vegetables, eggs, dairy, fish and meat during the complementary feeding period (from 6 - 23 months). In many cases, children depend on just a few staples, such as grains and tubers, which can lead to micronutrient deficiencies. For example, vitamin A deficiency is the main cause of blindness in children, and iodine deficiency can reduce a child’s intellectual capacity and harm his or her ability to learn.
Challenges are often related to economic factors inhibiting access, but also rooted in a lack of knowledge on the right amount, frequency, and diversity of food needed for children.
As a response, UNICEF’s Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) counselling packages have been used to train communities to improve nutrition practices. However, sessions are often conducted without utensils such as bowls, plates, or spoons to illustrate quantity and quality – tools a caregiver can take with them to continue the good nutrition practices at home.
"Far too many of our children and young people are not getting the diets they need, which is undermining their capacity to grow, develop and learn to their full potential. That hurts not just individual children and young people, it hurts us all."
UNICEF and partners are developing a Complementary Feeding Bowl as a practical, frugal innovation*** to ensure good feeding practices continue in the home. Building from research performed at Emory University, UNICEF is building on the evidence to innovate a new bowl fit for programming. The project includes the development of two products:
- A complementary feeding bowl with nutritional diversity messages included in the design to address food quality, and demarcations by age group within the bowl to address food quantity.
- A slotted spoon to ensure that the first semi-solid food after exclusive breast feeding is the right consistency, energy-dense and not watered down.
Prototypes of the bowl have been tested in five countries which have all indicated positive results. The concept was well received by community members and mothers, with reports indicating increases in meal frequency and quantity and thickness of food.
UNICEF is working closely with programming countries to further understand the needs while communicating those needs to the product manufacturers.
When fully scaled, this innovation has the potential to reach 23 million caregivers in more than 40 countries.
- Complementary Feeding Bowl Project Brief, June 2020
- Improving Young Children’s Diets During the Complementary Feeding Period, 2020
- UNICEF Target Product Profiles webpage
- UNICEF Supply Catalogue
* Hidden Hunger is a form of malnutrition where a person has deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals.
** State of the World’s Children, 2019
*** Frugal innovations are simple products or services that are dramatically lower in cost, outperform alternatives and can be scaled up through adoption by people who do not need special expertise or equipment.