10 proven nutrition interventions

Providing children the best chance to grow and develop to their full potential

UNICEF South Asia
A woman sits cross-legged on the floor spoon-feeding a child on her lap
01 June 2018

There is a critical window of opportunity – from conception to two years of age – to prevent child stunting. During these 1,000 days, 10 proven interventions offer South Asian children the best chance to grow and develop to their full potential. 




Breastfeeding, within one hour of life, protects the newborn from infections and reduces the risk of death. Proper positioning and attachment helps the mother produce more milk for her child and favors exclusive and a longer duration of breastfeeding.
Infants who are exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life do not need water or any other food or liquids even in hot climates. Mother’s milk is all they need for survival and optimal growth and development.
feeding complementary foods
After six months, infants need both breastmilk and complementary foods. Complementary foods –solid, semi-solid or soft foods given with mother’s milk – ensure that infants grow and develop to their full potential.
mother feeds nutrition food to baby
Children 6 to 24 months old need to eat sufficient amounts of age-appropriate foods. Foods from different food groups such as grains, eggs, poultry, fish, meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables provide children with the variety of nutrients they need to grow healthy and develop fully.
boy washing his hand
Washing caregivers’ and children’s hands with soap before preparing and eating foods is one of the most important ways of preventing germs from getting into food and avoiding diarrhoea and poor growth in young children.
boy gets his vitamin A
Regular intake of vitamin A supplements after six months of age can reduce death in under-fives by almost one quarter in vitamin A-deficient areas. Regular intake of iron supplements and regular deworming protect children against iron deficiency, anaemia and poor development.
mom feeds a child
Sick children, despite poor appetite, need increased amounts of food and fluids. Feeding them nutritious foods in small quantities and giving them fluids frequently, including breastmilk, help children recover faster.
feeding essential nutrients to a malnourished baby
A simple color-coded tape can be used to identify children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Most children with SAM - if identified before they develop medical problems - can be treated at home with appropriate therapeutic foods and counselling.
Adolescent eating healthy food
Adolescent girls can be protected against poor nutrition and anaemia through supervised weekly iron and folic acid supplementation, twice-yearly deworming, counselling to improve their diets, and empowerment to stay in school and avoid early marriage and pregnancy.
Husband helps wife eat healthy food
Pregnant women need to eat a varied diet to ensure that their children are born healthy and have a lower risk of being stunted, developing poorly, or dying. Breastfeeding mothers need to eat a plentiful diet to store the energy and nutrients they require to breastfeed successfully.