On World Food Day, breast milk for a healthy start in life

The theme of this year’s World Food Day is Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition. According to the World Food Programme, poor nutrition causes nearly half of deaths in children under five — 3.1 million deaths each year.1 Breast milk provides the perfect nutrition for infants through six months of age. Unlike formula, which is expensive to purchase and may not be safe or readily available, breast milk comes from a sustainable, secure source: mothers.

The Tiny Tales video series, produced by FHI 360’s Alive & Thrive project, provides a glimpse into the project’s efforts in Bangladesh to improve nutritional outcomes for women, infants and children through counseling on prenatal nutrition and infant and young child feeding during the first 1,000 days of an infant’s life. The episodes show how one family’s life has been improved through access to healthy food, advice on exclusive breastfeeding and proper, timely introduction of complementary foods.

Watch the episodes individually below, or click here to watch them in full.

Episode One

Sultana, a 26-year-old woman, awaits the birth of her second child in a rural village in northern Bangladesh. A community health care worker talks with Sultana to ensure she is getting nutrient-rich food and taking iron supplements daily during her pregnancy. The health care worker emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

Episode Two

Sultana gives birth to a baby boy and, with the help of her family, is balancing housework and caring for her baby. Health workers visit Sultana frequently to advise her on exclusive breastfeeding and to record the baby’s date of birth, weight and measurements.

Episode Three

Six weeks after the baby’s birth, Sultana and her family visit the district hospital. There, the baby gets his first set of vaccinations to protect against diphtheria, whooping cough, influenza and polio. Sultana continues to breastfeed to protect against infection and give the baby the nutrients he needs to thrive.

Episode Four

Sultana’s baby is now 4 months old. She and her husband name him Limon. While Sultana is away visiting her brother, her family and community take care of Limon, feeding him only expressed breast milk.

Episode Five

Limon has been exclusively breastfed for six months, and now it is time to introduce semisolid foods during the customary rice-feeding ceremony attended by relatives. Community health workers provide handwashing supplies and discuss hygiene practices related to food preparation, as well as healthy foods to prepare for the baby.

Episode Six

The day begins with the father buying vegetables for the family and Limon’s 7-year-old sister, Liva, going to school. Limon is now 10 months old and has been eating solid foods for four months. His growth has faltered some because he was not fed enough food after an illness.

Episode Seven (final)

It is Limon’s first birthday and the family is celebrating. Limon and Liva are healthy, and their mother is thinking about their future, especially ensuring that they both attend school.

1 The World Food Programme. Hunger Statistics. Available from: http://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats.

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