This briefing paper demonstrates how childcare is influenced by a range of household actors in Sierra Leone, and sets out what efforts to prevent malnutrition can do to engage with this reality.
Promoting good child nutrition must go beyond dissemination of infant and young child feeding practices to engage with key influences on mothers’ behaviour.
‘Exclusive’ breastfeeding is rarely exclusive, with traditional remedies frequently given to infants.
Decision-making around food distribution, household finances and when to stop breastfeeding is deeply gendered, influencing the ability of women to act on knowledge about appropriate feeding practices.
These social conditions that sustain malnutrition are exacerbated during ‘lean seasons’, when there are greater labour demands, compromised sanitation, and limited coping mechanisms.