The Magic of Exclusive Breastfeeding for a Child’s Growth and Development

Aziza Ramadhani Kitwiku, 29, has a primary school education and is a housewife and mother of three children in Tanzania. Below, she shares the different experiences of delivering and caring for her first two children compared to her third child, who is now seven-months-old and was conceived after she joined a Lishe Endelevu project support group.  

A mother holds and breastfeeds her baby.
Aziza breastfeeds her third child.

“I delivered my first child when I was 16-years-old with no idea about child caring practices. So, when my child was two weeks old, I introduced liquids and semi-solid foods as I believed that my milk alone could not be enough for my child’s growth and development. At that time, I experienced a lot of challenges in [reaching] the milestones of my child and I thought it was normal. During growth, the child experienced frequent incidences of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, and skin diseases. I had no skills in preparing diversified food, hence I used to mix several cereals to get flour because I grew up knowing that was a nutritious food for a child. That is the story of my first child, a boy who is now 13 years old.”

“In 2018, I delivered another child who I [cared for using the same] practices as the firstborn until October 2019, when I joined Lishe Endelevu support group meetings. By that time my second child was one year old. It was through these meetings that I learned about proper child caring practices within the first 1,000 days, but what most terrified me was how I missed the opportunity of exclusively breastfeeding both of my children. So, I was very serious to attend all meetings and cooking and WASH [water, sanitation, and hygiene] demonstrations, where I gained skills on preparing diversified food for my child, feeding frequency, and responsive feeding techniques integrated with WASH. From that time on, I noticed that the growth and development of my second child was better than my first. My baby gained more weight and she was free from infections, especially diarrhea.”

“The situation become much better when I conceived my third child, as I applied all that I learnt from the 1,000 days parent kit, including booking early antenatal care visits, intake of iron and folic acid as instructed, dietary diversity, and having resting time. I delivered at a health facility with the assistance of a nurse and managed to initiate breastfeeding within a short time after delivery and continue exclusive breastfeeding up to six months. I am amazed at the way my child looks brighter and healthier compared to my previous children when they were at this age. The remarkable growth and sharp mind at such a young age is the most significant change for me as I am confident that I am raising a brighter child. I am so proud of the knowledge I gained from Lishe Endelevu on 1,000-day child care practices. I sincerely thank Lishe Endelevu for their education and counseling, truly they have saved my children and now my children are healthier. I encourage other mothers to join support groups for learning, they will experience a lot of changes in their children and families.”

Read more about essential newborn care here

About the Author

The USAID-funded multi-sectoral nutrition activity Lishe Endelevu in Tanzania (2018-2022). “Lishe Endelevu” is Swahili for “sustainable nutrition”.

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