Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Healthy Diet for Baby Sandhya

Published on Save the Children -US website.

A Young Mother's Improved Nutrition Knowledge Supports her Growing Baby

Twenty-year-old Manju Chettri, a young mother in rural Nepal, works hard in her small family garden to grow healthy vegetables for her 11-month-old daughter, Sandhya. But when she was pregnant last year, Manju didn't realize that her diet was unhealthy, with little nutrients.

Manju Chettri and her baby Sandhya in Nepal. Photo by Pallavi Dhakal/ Suaahara, Save the Children
As she uproots the weeds in her garden, which is planted with green beans, cucumber, eggplant and water spinach, Manju now knows how to grow a variety of nutritious crops and prepare healthy, high-quality meals for her baby, thanks to training provided by Save the Children's USAID-funded Suaahara program.

"I know that water spinach is packed with vitamins and is really good for a growing child," says Manju. "That is why I use it in my daughter's porridge."

Suaahara emphasized the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and the timely introduction of complementary, high-protein food for babies after six months, such as eggs, milk and meat. Maju also learned valuable farming and animal husbandry skills, and was given a variety of vegetable seeds to plant in her garden and baby chicks to start raising poultry.

"Without the training, I would not have breastfed my daughter exclusively for six months, and we both would have eaten a poor diet. My daughter would be malnourished now," says Manju.

Manju lives with her in-laws, so Suaahara engaged them as well in training and counseling to support her new skills and understand the importance of good nutrition, especially for the critical first 1,000 days of Sandhya's life.

Manju and her family in Nepal. Photo by Pallavi Dhakal/ Suaahara, Save the Children
"They do all they can to support me at home and in the field," says Manju. "I plow, water the plants and make organic pesticides," says her father-in-law Dhan.

Manju growing healthy food for her family. Photo by Pallavi Dhakal/ Suaahara, Save the Children

Manju's daughter Sandhya is a healthy baby, but 41 percent of Nepali children under five are stunted from malnourishment. Since 2011, Suaahara has worked in 25 districts in Nepal to reach more than 350,000 children under the age of two and their mothers, with a strong package of nutrition-focused activities to reduce undernutrition, and potentially be used as a model for other countries.

"I am happy to see the fruits of our labor in our home garden," says Manju. "Thanks to the farming skills and seeds, I have access to fresh vegetables for myself and my baby at home."

1 comment:

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