NE: 1 Nutrition Education

Effective Date: 07/09 Downloads: PDF Version    Revised Date: 12/16


WIC participants will be offered nutrition education according to federal and state standards, program goals, and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines. Nutrition education will be considered a benefit of the WIC Program and will be made available at no cost to all participants.


The goals of WIC Nutrition Education shall be to: 1) emphasize the relationship between nutrition, physical activity, and health with special emphasis on the categories served and 2) assist the participant to achieve a positive change in dietary and physical activity habits. The optimal use of WIC supplemental foods will support improved nutritional status and prevent nutrition-related health problems.

In addition, nutrition education shall be designed to meet the personal and cultural preferences of the individual, and shall raise awareness about the dangers of using drugs and other harmful substances during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Nutrition education shall be made available to all WIC participants and at no cost to them.

All participants shall be offered the relevant, category- based nutrition education, with “how-to” actions to accomplish those goals. In addition to nutrition education being category-based, information gathered during the assessment process should be used to design appropriate nutrition education. Nutrition education offered may include a wide array of messages that are relevant to participant’s nutritional risk factors and individual nutrition needs/concerns as well as emerging health issues. Assessment information, critical thinking skills, and professional judgment should be used to select the most relevant and effective tailored nutrition education message(s) for the participant. Relevant NED topics for one-on-one, group class and online NED contacts per participant category include:

Prenatal Women:

  • Eating for a healthy pregnancy
  • Healthy shopping with WIC foods
  • Healthy recipes
  • Food label education
  • Weight management
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby Behaviors, feeding cues


Postpartum Women:

  • Healthy eating after pregnancy
  • Healthy shopping with WIC foods
  • Food label education
  • Healthful weight management
  • Exercise and physical activity
  • Breastfeeding
  • Paced bottle-feeding
  • Proper bottle preparation and storage
  • Baby Behaviors, feeding / hunger cues
  • Preconception Care
  • Health tips for new moms


Infants 0-5 Months:

  • Bottle feeding, preparation and storage
  • Early infant feeding recommendations
  • First foods
  • Baby’s growth and development
  • Breastfeeding
  • Bottle preparation and storage
  • Introducing solids
  • Homemade baby food
  • Baby Behaviors, feeding / hunger cues
  • Ellyn Satter’s: Division of Responsibility in feeding infants, babies


Infants 6-11 Months

  • Older infant feeding recommendations
  • Choking hazards
  • Homemade baby food
  • Starting solids
  • Spoon feeding
  • Hunger / satiety cues
  • Introducing a cup
  • Ellyn Satter’s: Division of Responsibility in feeding infants, babies
  • Oral health


Children 1-4 Years

  • Age-specific feeding recommendations
  • Ellyn Satter’s: Division of Responsibility in feeding toddlers through adolescents
  • Introducing a Cup
  • Healthy shopping
  • Family meals
  • Meal and snack timing
  • Modeling healthy habits
  • Active Play
  • Choking hazards
  • Cooking with kids
  • Picky eaters
  • Introducing new foods
  • Portion sizes
  • Snacks, sweets and treats
  • Age-appropriate drinks
  • Oral health
  • Nutrient-rich foods

The above topics are examples of topics within the WIC scope. WIC staff providing nutrition education must be CPA, Nutritionist / RD, or LA professionally credentialed subject matter expert (e.g. a contract IBCLC teaching a Breastfeeding class), OR, have successfully completed the Instructor-led nutrition course as well as the CPA training modules, and be competent with the information they are presenting.

A nutrition education contact shall: 

A.  Be facilitated by WIC CPA, Nutritionist / RD, or LA partnering subject matter expert (e.g. a contract IBCLC teaching a Breastfeeding class).

B.  Provide interaction that engages the participant;

C.  Meet the language and cultural preferences of the participant;

D.  Be relevant to the participant’s category, assessment data, and/or questions or concerns;

E.  Assess the participant’s readiness for knowledge and change;

F.  Address the participant’s questions and concerns;

G.  Be comprised of accurate and current information;

H.  Be made available to all present adult participants; and/or parent, guardian, caregiver of an infant or child, and when appropriate directly to the child.


High Risk Counseling

Based on the certification risk codes, if a participant is considered to be “high risk”, they must be referred to the dietitian/nutritionist at the time of high risk identification and must be seen within 60 days to develop an individual care plan.  Individual care plans may developed if the dietitian/nutritionist deems it appropriate, or if the participant requests, even if the participant is not identified as “high risk.” CPA’s should also consult the dietitian/nutritionist if they feel a client needs to be seen.

Please see NE: 3 for procedure on high risk counseling.


Refusal of Nutrition Education

Participants should always be encouraged to participate in nutrition education activities however, individual participants will not be denied supplemental foods for failure to attend or participate in nutrition education activities. Refusals MUST be documented in Progress Notes and in MIS.  In the case of “no shows” who call to reschedule their appointments, continue to reschedule the participant for counseling/nutrition education sessions until a second nutrition education contact is made. “No shows” must also be documented in the Progress Notes and in MIS.


Nutrition Education by Proxy

To ensure that nutrition education efforts are effectively administered, participants are allowed to receive nutrition education by proxy for subsequent appointments following their initial or re-certification. A proxy is usually a caregiver that has knowledge of the infants/child’s eating habits and medical conditions (i.e. grandparents, father, or mother). See CR:2 for proxy definition and procedure.