For young children experiencing an illness, adequate nutrition is critical to recovery. However, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and many other settings, children often do not receive the recommended amounts of food during and after an illness. In close collaboration with caregivers, health providers, programmers, and policymakers in the DRC, Breakthrough ACTION and USAID Advancing Nutrition used a behavioral design process to develop solutions that support families so they can continue feeding their young children during periods of illness and feed children more in the two weeks following illness.

The Behavioral Barriers to Feeding Young Children Before and After Illness brief (also available in French) summarizes the results from formative qualitative research conducted with caregivers, health workers, and others, and offers suggestions for how these insights may translate to other settings. Additional details on the formative research process are also available in the Barriers to Feeding Young Children Well During and After Illness blog post.

The companion Behavioral Solutions for Child Feeding Before and After Illness brief (also available in French) describes the solutions developed in DRC, with links to the solution materials and implementation guidance, as well as tips for considering their applicability in other settings.


Solutions work through multiple channels to support caregivers of six to 23-month-old children to continue to breastfeed and feed children during illness, and to feed them more for two weeks after illness:

In sick child consultations, a “Feeding Prescription,” Counseling Aids, and reminder stickers support health providers to counsel consistently and effectively. A Reflection and Orientation to Solutions for Facility-Based Health Providers prompts them to re-think their counseling approach, building motivation to use the new tools.

In gatherings of caregivers, a Peer Exchange of Coaxing Strategies facilitated by a community health worker builds caregivers’ skills and confidence to encourage young children to eat when their appetite is poor.

In home visits to families of sick children by a community health worker, families learn together to celebrate every bite and plan to overcome challenges to feeding the child during illness and recovery.


Learn more about the formative research and design processes from Breakthrough ACTION and USAID Advancing Nutrition staff who shared their insights during a webinar held in April 2022 (also available in French).