A food plan that helps sick kids get again on their ft – outlook on India

Mitali Behera from the village of Santarapur knew nothing about feeding practices during illness until Aanganwadi Workers advised her and devised a healthy diet plan for her child.

Representative picture

Mitali Behera lives with her family in the village of Santarapur in the Ghatagaon block in the Keonjhar district and is the mother of two children. The village has a total population of around 600, with most of the people working as farm workers. The village population consists mainly of other backward castes, including planned castes and planned tribal families in smaller numbers.

Mitali's husband Dilip Behera is a driver and earns around 7,000 rupees a month. Their second child, Sujan Swaraj Behera, was born at CHC Ghatagaon in vember 2018. His birth weight was 2.7 kg and breastfeeding began within an hour of giving birth. Mitali was instructed by the ANM and AWW to exclusively breastfeed the child up to 6 months of age and she continued to do so.

When Sujan finished 6 months, his annaprashan (first rice ceremony) was organized at the Anganwadi Center and he was fed kheeri. Mitali has now been instructed to feed the child with complementary feed. Mitali fed him chatua and mixed with water (porridge made from grain). During this time, feeding demonstration sessions were started at the Anganwadi centers. Mitali attended these meetings. At one such session, Mitali, with the help of AWW Chatua, cooked kheeri by adding jaggery, iodized salt, milk, oil, and ripe bananas and papaya. She realized that it was very different from what she gave Sujan at home as it was thicker and had a lot more ingredients in it. She asked the AWW the reason for making thick porridge and mixing fruits. She has been advised that the child needs more variety of foods with the right consistency for adequate physical growth and brain development.

Mitali started to prepare the recipes she learned at the Anganwadi Center. She slowly increased the amount and frequency of feeding her child. She even learned how to include different foods in her child's diet. Sujan grew well until he developed a fever in January due to seasonal changes and his diet was restricted. The AWW carried out growth monitoring for each child in their center. It was observed that Sujan lost about 400g compared to December.
After an examination, it was found that he was not doing well and that his diet was restricted during the illness. The Projektfeldmonitor and AWW advised them on feeding practices during illness and suggested providing an additional meal to cover the nutritional losses caused by illness along with continued breastfeeding. They even advised her about hand washing and other hygiene practices that must be followed to prevent infection. Mitali also shared that Sujan stopped eating eggs after suffering from illness. AWW suggested mixing egg with potato and feeding him. After that, Sujan started eating eggs again and was on the way to recovery. He gained weight and weighed 8.4 kg at 16 months.

Courtesy of UNICEF / CINI

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