World Vision International

BabyWASH: Improving Outcomes in the First 1,000 Days of Life

What is BabyWASH?

BabyWASH integrates water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions into maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), early childhood development (ECD) and nutrition, to have a more profound impact on child health outcomes in the first 1,000 days of life. Key interventions focus on hotspots in the first 1,000 days, including pregnancy, delivery, the first week of life, the onset of complementary feeding, and throughout a child’s mobility.


Why BabyWASH?

In our world, 159 million children under 5 face stunted growth in which poor hygiene and sanitation causes about 15% of that stunting. 45% of all child deaths are due to undernutrition and 50% of underweight status in children is due to poor water, sanitiation and hygiene. 

WASH interventions, during child birth, have been shown to reduce maternal and newborn mortality, sepsis, tetanus, and aid overall recovery. Also, current and emerging research supports the theory of environmental enteric dysfunction(EED), a condition caused by poor hygiene that leads to chronic inflammation and low nutrient absorption. The microbiome, linear growth trajectory, cognitive, sensorimotor, and socioemotional brain pathways are all determined prior to age three. The effects of poor hygiene during the first 1,000 days of life can determine whether or not a child will reach his or her developmental potential. BabyWASH targets all stages of a newborn's life within the first 1,000 days and strives towards overall psycho-social well being in addition to physical and cognitive development. 


At a quick glance, 

  • Save 31,000 mothers and 420,000 babies each year through more hygienic birth practices. (WHO 2014)
  • Reduce the 45% of child deaths each year linked to malnutrition. (WHO 2016)
  • Reduce the 50% of malnutrition associated with unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, or insufficient hygiene. (WHO 2008)
  • Reduce diarrhoea rates by 30-40% through proven hygiene practices. (WHO 2014)
  • Reduce risk of neonatal mortality by 44% by early initiation of breastfeeding. (Lancet 2014)
  • Increase multi-sectoral ownership of ECD to impact reduction of the 200 million children under five globally who do not reach their full developmental potential due to environmental conditions associated with poverty, malnutrition and poor health. (Lancet 2013)



World Vision is committed to figuring out how best to integrate our sectors to improve child well-being. A toolkit has been created to help guide our national offices and support offices.

Introduction to the toolkit

Key Interventions to implement BabyWASH

Evidence for interventions during the first 1,000 days 




More information on the Global BabyWASH Coalition can be found in the brochure below. 




For more information, please contact World Vision expert:

Kristie Urich, Knowledge Management Coordinator, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

kristie_urich [at] wvi [dot] org



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