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My Participation in a Focus Group Discussion Talking About Child Nutrition


Last week on Tuesday, I attended a focus group discussion about child nutrition, which had been organized by the organization African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and the Ministry of Health. It was at Hongs Restaurant -opposite Yaya Center. The samosa’s and masala tea at that place are good by the way.

Anyway, moms who have children aged below two years had been invited to the discussion, and since Ello is 13 months old, I represented. The discussions were about sharing our personal experiences about our feeding practices for our kids, right from the time they were born to where they are now.

We talked about breastfeeding, what foods we’ve heard are good for boosting breastmilk supply, what foods we give when weaning (complementary feeding), how we introduce these foods, the myths or superstitions we’ve heard about when it comes to child nutrition, the roles of our moms and moms-in-law when it comes to feeding our children, etc.

The discussions were quite insightful. Among us were two Nigerian moms, and it was interesting to listen to their experiences about being new moms in Nigeria, and especially how involved their moms-in-law are in this. Both ladies said that their MILs have always played a key role when their babies have been born. Almost similar to how many of our Kenyan MILs are involved as well.

One thing these moms however said that struck me was that their little babies enjoy eating chili once they get weaned. Atia tia? Chili! Apparently, one of the favourite spices found in most Nigerian meals is chili, and kids from as young as 7 months munch on food that has chili, and they love it!  I can’t even imagine trying that out on Ello. Or Kitty. Or even myself. Me and chili we don’t get along. Never have. I tear-up when I eat chili.

Another thing I learnt came from a fellow Kenyan mom. She is from the Kamba community, and she told us of this interesting practice Kamba moms –especially those in rural villages –do to relieve colic in their babies.

She explained it like this:

–          Take some little raw honey (not the supermarket honey but the real raw honey, the real deal).

–          Put a little of it on your finger.

–          Paste it on baby’s tongue.

–          Baby swallows it.

–          Give once a day.

–          Colic stops.

–          The end.

Just like that. She said that this was a tried, tested and true practice, which she personally used on her two year old son when he was an infant and it worked! She totally advocates for it, adding that it has worked for hundreds of other women back in ukambani.

Have you heard of this practice yourself? Have you tried it out? Did it work?

Back to the discussion, it was good and lasted around two and a half hours. For me, any forum where we are discussing matters maternal and child health I am so game.

By the way the aim of this group discussion was to help the Ministry of Health and its partners improve on the different baby friendly initiatives they have among communities across the country. In this case, it was focused on how they can improve the existing nutrition practices. I hope my contribution with regard to how I feed my two boys helped them. Aside from Nairobi county, they have undertaken similar focus group discussions with moms in Kwale, Vihiga, Machakos, Kiambu and Kajiado counties.

Have a lovely day.

photos courtesy: APHRC



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


  1. Sounds interesting. I would have loved to attend. Oddly enough Azizi has always enjoyed chilli food. I do not enjoy chilly food myself but his dad does. I remember one time we had gone to an Afghan restaurant when he was 1 year and he was happily munching away at his dad’s chilly food. The chef and waiters were amazed. He has always enjoyed hot chevda and chilly lemon potato crisps even at 2 years. Last weekend at Subways he asked for extra jalapeno chillies on his sandwich. The lady preparing it was so amused. I thought if the mum enjoyed chillies when she was pregnant then the baby would enjoy them. And if the family and those around the baby enjoy chillies then its only natural. But again how do you explain one of my daughters who does not eat meat yet she is not being raised by vegetarians? While the baby sister eats nothing else on her plate except meat. Have you ever given a baby a lemon to suck on? They actually enjoy it. Same way babies can tolerate saltless or sugarless food. So I guess Ello and Kitty would have enjoyed chillies.:)


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