Helping Babies Thrive

MALAWI_ Care group volunteer takes a mother through nutrition information and encourages mother to breastfeed her baby exclu

At Feed the Children, we know that parents, particularly mothers, are the critical link to helping kids be healthy and well nourished, especially in the early months and years of life.

That’s why this week, Feed the Children’s office in Kenya joins the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Dietetic Unit and other partners to mark World Breastfeeding Week.

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually from August 1 to 7 to promote exclusive breastfeeding for newborns during the first six months of life. Experts say that exclusive breastfeeding yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients to children, helping protect from disease, and fostering growth and development.

“Breastfeeding is the single most important indicator for reducing the child mortality rate up to 80%,” says Clementina Ngina, Feed the Children’s Food & Nutrition Pillar Manager. “It is also one of the five indicators set during the World Health Assembly which countries likes ours are working hard to improve. Feed the Children is promoting exclusive breastfeeding as part of this effort.”

Feed the Children has long been involved in advocating breastfeeding of newborns and infants. Through our Care Group model, our staff is able to train a large number of volunteers who then work within communities to promote healthy nutrition for children, including breastfeeding.

Food stuffs classified according to their nutritional groups during the launch of Feed the Children International’s new logo in Lilongwe March 26, 2015. PHOTO FEED THE CHILDREN/AMOS GUMULIRA
Food classified according to their nutritional groups.

Our work is based on studies showing how critical the first 1000 days of a child’s life can be. We know that giving attention to a child’s health and nutritional needs during that period will help create a lasting impact in their lives. Our Care Group volunteers teach best practices to new mothers and expectant women to help them raise healthy and well-nourished children.

Through these Care Group forums, Feed the Children emphasizes the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Mothers and mothers-to-be are taught that breastmilk has the right proportion of nutrients to help babies develop well.

To commemorate World Breastfeeding Week, Feed the Children Kenya has worked with the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Dietetic Unit in partnership with members of the Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) technical working group. Feed the Children is a member of this working group.

During this week’s event, two educational materials are being launched, the National MIYCN counseling cards and the Baby-Friendly Community Initiative. Feed the Children actively participated in the development of both of these documents, and they will be a vital tool as our Care Groups continue to create a world in which babies can not just survive, but thrive.