Babies benefit when their mothers learn about exclusive breastfeeding

In Northern Kenya, an area currently suffering from extreme drought and lack of food, mothers are experiencing what a difference breastfeeding makes for their infants. In the U.S., exclusive breastfeeding doesn’t mean the difference between life and death, but it can in places where clean water is scarce and baby formula doesn’t exist.

“When I compare Luko and Mary,” says Sarah, their mother, “I now see the goodness of exclusively breastfeeding.”

 Luko, 9 months old in the photo above, was fed nothing but his mother’s breast milk for his first 6 months of life, thanks to a training by FH on nutrition for children and the benefits of breastfeeding.

Luko’s older sister, Mary, like other babies in her community, had been fed a diet of water, porridge and other edibles. One major problem with this is that the water had a good chance of not being clean enough — especially for the very delicate system of a newborn baby. It is common for babies fed this diet to suffer from chronic vomiting, diarrhea and kwashiorkor — a type of malnutrition that results from getting too little protein.

Today, 4-year-old Mary is only the height of a 3-year-old child, while Luko has reached an ideal height for his age. Tests show he is on track in terms of physical growth, while Mary lags behind.

“Since I gave birth to Luko,” Sarah (above) says, “he has never been sick. Not even flu. But Mary has many times been to hospital and even she does not look strong like her brother. She is not as active as her brother, and Luko has learnt to crawl faster as compared to the time Mary started crawling.” 

Around the world, FH staff educate mothers on simple ways to improve the health of their children through nutrition. In Sarah’s community, FH staff work through the local health clinic and the community’s leaders, sharing messages about good nutrition and healthy practices. They also encourage women to form mother-to-mother support groups, sharing information and helping each other in this most vital role.