Dairy intensification, mothers and children: an exploration of infant and young child feeding practices among rural dairy farmers in Kenya
This article in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition elaborates on the impacts of dairy intensification to human nutrition and household food security. While dairy intensification could improve human nutrition and food security due to higher incomes for the farmers, it could as have negative impacts. These impacts are related to the increasing workload of mothers, which negative affect infant and young child feeding (IYCF). Mothers tend to experience more stress, have less time for feeding and have specific beliefs about the timing and appropriate types of complementary foods. Using focus group discussions and a survey in Kenya, this study explores the relationship between the level of household dairy production and selected IYCF practices. It looked at mother’s attitudes towards breastfeeding, introduction of complementary foods and child diets. The results indicated that women from higher dairy producing households were more likely to introduce cow’s milk to infants before they reached 6 months than women from households not producing any dairy. Themes from the focus group discussions demonstrated that women were familiar with exclusive breastfeeding recommendations, but indicated a preference for mixed feeding of infants. The authors argue that evidence from this study can inform nutrition education programs targeted to farmers participating in dairy interventions in rural, low-income settings to minimize potential harm to the nutritional status of children.