Afia Makes Nutritious Weaning Food for Her Youngest Daughter

By Patience Obour – Promoting Good Nutrition Program Officer

Afia feeding her daughter porridge.

Good nutrition plays a crucial role in a person’s life and serves as an important tool in preventing numerous diseases. It is imperative that children receive the nutrients they need for their growth and brain development, especially in the first 1,000 days of their lives. This critical stage in development can affect children throughout their entire lives.

Parents in the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) program at Self-Help International are very concerned about the growth and development of their children. Some parents only feed their children staple foods like cassava or yams (mainly carbohydrates) which don’t provide adequate protein. As a result, their children experience protein energy malnutrition (PEM). Self-Help is working with mothers in two communities in Ghana – Beposo and Kukubuso – to ensure mothers have access to quality protein maize (QPM) for their families’ porridge, animal protein from eggs, and the knowledge to take care of themselves and their babies.

Afia is a 45-year-old mother of six living in the village of Beposo who has partnered with GHFGHC. According to Afia, she ate mostly carbohydrates prior to connecting with the GHFGHC program. The program and Self-Help’s staff nutritionists helped to reshape her choice of food to incorporate vegetables and forms of protein into her diet. She said she was not prioritizing eating fruits and vegetables because she did not know that they  contain nutrients that are important to the body.

“The staff’s nutrition counseling has taught me that I need to add protein, fruits, and vegetables to my diet,” Afia shared.

Madam Afia sees her daughter’s growth and development and attributes that to the eggs and the protein-rich porridge she fed her as a baby. She noted that the growth of her youngest child compared to her previous children has been different.

Afia’s daughter loves eggs!

“[My daughter] is growing healthier and I haven’t incurred the same hospital bills. My older children used to fall sick when they were younger, but [my youngest daughter’s] case has been different – she is almost two years old and we have never been to the hospital,” Afia said.

“My daughter likes eggs and tom brown (a porridge that consists of QPM and peanuts roasted and milled together),” Afia said. “Some children only eat egg yolks and reject the [egg white], while others only like the [egg white]; but my daughter eats both the yolk and the [egg white].”

Afia said that through the program, she has learned how to diversify the weaning food she is giving to her youngest daughter by incorporating more nutrient-rich ingredients.

“I have moved on from preparing porridge with only corn and sugar to preparing more nutrient rich porridges with ingredients like corn, sugar, powdered fish, soya beans, groundnut paste or whole egg.”

Through nutrition education, mothers like Afia are learning how to implement changes in their families’ diets that will have lasting effects on their children as they grow and develop.