A Diet To Help Ailing Kids Bounce Back
Mitali Behera lives in Santarapur village of Ghatagaon block in Keonjhar district with her family and is a mother of two children. The village has a total population of about 600, where most of the people work as agricultural labourers. The village population comprises primarily of other backward castes including scheduled castes and scheduled tribes families in smaller numbers.
Mitali’s husband, Dilip Behera is a driver and earns about 7000 rupees per month. Their second child, Sujan Swaraj Behera was born in November 2018 at CHC Ghatagaon. His birth weight was 2.7 kg and breastfeeding was initiated within one hour after birth. Mitali was told by ANM and AWW to exclusively breastfeed the child up to 6 months of age and she continued doing that.
When Sujan completed 6 months, his annaprashan (first rice ceremony) was organized at the Anganwadi Centre and he was fed with kheeri. Mitali was told now to start feeding the child with complementary foods. Mitali started feeding him chatua mixing with water (gruel made from cereals). During this time, feeding demonstration sessions were started at the Anganwadi Centres. Mitali started attending these sessions. At one such session, Mitali with the help of AWW, cooked Chatua Kheeri by adding jaggery, iodized salt, milk, oil and ripe banana and papaya. She realized that it was very different from what she was giving to Sujan at home as it was thicker and contained many more ingredients. She asked the AWW about the reason for giving thick porridge and mixing fruits. She was counselled that the child needs more variety of foods with correct consistency for proper physical growth and brain development.
Mitali started preparing the recipes she learnt at the Anganwadi centre. She slowly increased the quantity and frequency of feeding for her child. She even learnt how to add variety of foods in her child’s diet. Sujan was growing well until he got fever in January due to seasonal changes and his diet was restricted. The AWW conducted growth monitoring for every child in her centre. It was observed that Sujan lost about 400 gms as compared to December.
After inquiry it was found that he was not well and his diet was restricted during illness. The project field monitor along with AWW counselled her on feeding practices during illness and suggested to provide one extra meal to cover the nutritional losses due to illness along with continued breastfeeding. They even counselled her about hand washing and other hygiene behaviors which need to be followed to prevent infection. Mitali also shared that after illness, Sujan had stopped eating egg. AWW suggested mixing egg with potato and feed it to him. After this Sujan again started eating egg and was on the road to recovery. He started gaining weight and weighed 8.4 kg at 16 months of age.