11.7  Assess the child’s feeding

As a Health Extension Practitioner you will assess feeding of children who:

  • are classified as having anaemia or very low weight for age, or
  • are younger than two years old.

In some cases, you may find that you have already discussed with and given the mother advice on many other aspects of her infant’s health and provided several different treatment instructions. The mother may therefore be feeling overwhelmed and find it hard to take in more information at this stage. If you think this is the case, you may delay assessing feeding and counselling the mother about feeding until a later visit.

In Study Session 10 you learned how to assess breastfeeding. You will find more information about how to assess a child’s feeding if you look at page 40 of the Assess and Classify chart booklet. If you ask the questions set out there you will be able to find out about the child’s usual feeding and his feeding during his current illness. If you need to remind yourself of the kinds of questions to ask, go back to Study Session 10 and look at the guidance there.

Listen to any accounts of good feeding practices that the mother tells you about and praise her for the things she is doing well. It is important that you reinforce the positive things she is doing, as well as point out things that need to be changed. If an answer is unclear, ask another question. For example, if the mother of a very low weight child says that servings are ‘large enough,’ you could ask, ‘When the child has eaten, does he still want more?’ Working closely with the mother in this way, and helping her to provide optimum feeding for her child will help to promote the child’s healthy growth and development.

11.6  Feeding recommendations when a mother is HIV-positive

11.7.1  Identify feeding problems