Feds Award $20 Million to Teach Guatemalan Mothers To Spot a Baby's ‘Hunger Cues'

By Penny Starr | May 11, 2015 | 2:15 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has given $20 million in funding to two organizations that are teaching new mothers in Guatemala about hunger and breastfeeding, using such tools as flip charts and guidance on spotting on hunger “cues.”

Food for the Hungry (FH) and the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute announced the partnership and funding in a Mother’s Day press release that describes the “groundbreaking breastfeeding training program.”

“The training program teaches mothers that newborns begin to communicate their needs immediately upon delivery,” the training materials state. “Over time, babies will be able to communicate more.”

“Our job as caretakers is to listen to what our babies are trying to tell us, to recognize what need or feeling they are expressing, and to respond to our babies’ needs and feelings with love,” the training materials state.

The press release notes that FH staff noticed that Guatemalan mothers often carry their babies on their back or put them in hammocks “making caregivers prone to missing the subtle cues that the baby is hungry (e.g., baby starts sucking on her fist when she wants to nurse).”

“There’s been a lot of evidence in early child development that suggests that cue recognition – focusing on acknowledged needs – rather than being controlling or laissez faire – is useful in cognitive language development for nutrition,” Karen Calani, FH’s health and nutrition coordinator in Guatemala, said in the press release.

Volunteers learn infant hunger “cues” and then use a flip chart to teach the mothers how to respond to their child.

The press release states that 2.7 million Guatemalans “are affected by food insecurity,” with some 43 percent of children under 5 suffering from “chronic malnutrition.”

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