CGBI: Responsive Feeding
The act of feeding a infant or toddler plays an important role in that child’s growth and development. Responsive, interactive and engaged feeding is optimal. Optimal infant and young child feeding experiences, starting with breastfeeding, provide daily opportunities to encourage a child’s development and contribute to the building of self-confidence, social skills and communication skills. Feeding is a major part of a parent/child interaction in the first three years of life, and these years are a period of incredible growth in all areas of a child’s development.
Culturally Adaptable Global Responsive Feeding Curriculum
CGBI collaborated with TOPS and Food for the Hungry in Guatemala (FHG) to create and pilot test a curriculum to teach Responsive Feeding behaviors to rural mothers using the care group methodology in 2015. Entitled Reading and Responding to Your Baby, the curriculum includes a lesson plan for facilitators and a colorful flip chart for use in communities. It is now available for download in English and Spanish on the Food Security and Nutrition Network website.
This pilot project was able to determine the feasibility of teaching infant feeding and behavior cues to Q’ueqhi’ mothers in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Improvements were noted especially in immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, responsive breastfeeding and complementary feeding behaviors. Cue recognition by mothers remains something that is more difficult to identify in some cases, but, with practice, we believe would also improve over time. Providing mothers with opportunities to improve caregiving skills improves the mother-child bond and also appears to improve important nutrition behaviors that could promote healthy growth and decrease malnutrition. FHG found that interest in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) key messages grew not only in mothers, but also in other important groups within the community, namely fathers and grandmothers. Mothers need the support of other family members in order to adequately provide the attention infants and young children need for healthy development and growth.
By documenting the adaptation of key messages and materials for this population and sharing our results with the broader food security community, we hope to provide other organizations working in infant and young child nutrition with tools for integrating ECD messaging into nutrition programming as a way of improving child well being and reducing malnutrition.
From a Q’ueqhi’ Mayan mother: “None of the material content was invented. It’s real and can be lived every day. For that, we are thankful to the people that created these materials to be used in the community.”
Based on the pilot project, the messages in this module are being incorporated into new modules on Prenatal Care and Breastfeeding as part of a 2017 collaboration with Food for the Hungry, funded by the FEMSA Foundation. Stay tuned for links to these modules in early 2018.