| Nutrition learning packages |
|Nutrition Learning Package 2: MEASURING GROWTH|
Health workers who are not used to reading charts and graphs may at first have difficulty recording babies' weights accurately, or interpreting what they mean. But with appropriate teaching, health workers can quickly learn to understand and use growth charts. They can also learn to teach nonliterate mothers and fathers to follow the growth of their children on the growth chart. Some community health workers call the growth chart the 'Road to Health'.
The teaching methods used for helping community health workers learn about weighing babies serve a double purpose. Community health workers can later use the same methods to explain growth charts to mothers and fathers in their villages.
The basic teaching aid for learning to use a growth chart is the chart itself. Practice growth charts can be reproduced at relatively low cost. On page 50 you will find the World Health Organization prototype growth chart which you can use if your country does not already have its own. You may wish to make a large poster or flannelgraph of this chart for teaching.
Making the practice weighing and use of charts seem real and making it fun: a teaching idea
If model babies and role-playing are used, then practising weighing babies, using growth charts, and giving advice to parents can be fun.
Make a model baby, similar to the one in the picture, out of clay, a plastic bottle or a gourd (see Fig. 5).
To make the model baby's weight similar to that of a real baby put some heavy objects into it (see Fig. 6). The model baby can be made to gain weight by adding water between weighings.
To make practice weighings more realistic and fun, you can also make a model of a breast-feeding mother. You can use a cardboard carton and a plastic bottle filled with water as shown in Fig. 7.
You can attach a baby-bottle nipple to the plastic bottle so that the model mother can 'breast-feed' the model baby (see Fig. 8). In order to let the milk run quickly into the model baby's mouth, cut a hole in the tip of the rubber nipple.
Using these teaching aids, the trainees (and mothers and fathers) can practise the monthly weighing of the 'baby'. Between weighings, the 'mother' breast-feeds the 'baby' so that it gains weight each time. It helps to hang a calendar on the wall and change it to the next month before each weighing (see Fig. 9). This helps everyone understand that weighing must be carried out every month for several months.
Each 'month, as the baby is weighed, the health workers, fathers or mothers take turns at recording the 'baby's' age and weight on the growth chart (see Fig. 10). In this way, everyone sees how the 'baby's' weight goes up each month, and how the 'baby' is growing.
The use of the model baby and mother is only one idea for teaching the use of growth charts. It was developed by village instructors and students during a training programme, and helped make the programme successful. We hope you and your trainees will think of new and even better teaching aids.