A elderly woman, mother, and children are all gathered sharing a meal on a blanket on the ground.
Photo credit: Maxime Fossat for USAID/Kyrgyz Republic

Zhannat grew up in a big family in a rural, tree-filled region of Southern Kyrgyzstan, and now has five children of her own. Her youngest daughter, 8-month-old Aitunuk, is the only child that Zhannat breastfed exclusively, and for a whole six months.

Zhannat married young and, like other mothers in the region, relied on her instincts and advice from older women in her family about nutrition practices for her children. Based on this advice, she breastfed her four older children for only three months, after which she started them on more solid, but nutrient-deficient foods like porridge and sweet cookies dissolved in milk.