Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Caring for the newborn at home

Caring for newborns and children in the community

World Health Organization

Book cover image.

Publication details

Publication date: 2015
Languages: English
ISBN: 978 92 4 154929 5



These training materials provide guidance for community health workers to conduct home visits in the antenatal period and the first weeks after the baby is born. They promote that families seek care from a skilled health professional for antenatal care and care at birth and support families in adopting appropriate home care practices for the mother and baby, during pregnancy and after childbirth. The materials draw on experiences of training community health workers in caring for the newborn at home in several research studies, particularly the SEARCH study in India and the NEWHINTS study in Ghana.

The course is based upon adult learning principles to achieve the required competencies for counselling families about pregnancy care and caring for newborns at home. It includes classroom learning, group discussions, games, role plays and most importantly, hands-on supervised field practice in a health facility and in the community.

The course will need to be adapted at country level to ensure that it is consistent with national policies, care standards and the health systems. It is clearly recognized that training is only one component of a programme for delivering effective interventions at community level. Once trained, community health workers will require supplies, regular supervision, and support from the health system to ensure they provide consistent and high-quality services.

Course objectives are to develop community health workers' competence in;

  • communication skills and building a good relationship with the family when making a home visit;
  • counselling the family on the importance of antenatal care, planning for birth in a health facility, home care for pregnant women and appropriate newborn care practices immediately after birth;
  • assessing breastfeeding, danger signs and weight in a newborn, deciding to refer or provide care at home depending on the results of the assessment, and advising families on optimal care practices for the newborn;
  • assisting families to provide extra care for the small baby.

This training course is part of the WHO-UNICEF package "Caring for newborns and children in the community" which is aimed at increasing the coverage of household and community interventions that will reduce newborn and child mortality and promote the healthy growth and development of young children. The package consists of 3 courses, namely on caring for the newborn at home, promoting healthy growth and development, and caring for the sick child. These courses can be offered separately or in combination, according to a country’s needs.

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