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We were sitting on floor mats in the hot and dusty Quartier Moustiquaire, the poorest neighborhood of Djibouti City, observing a group of new mothers and their children discussing child feeding practices. All of a sudden, there was an uproar in the group. One woman had her head bent down in shame, and several other women shouted and pointed fingers at her.
My Djiboutian counterparts told me the embarrassed woman was being criticized because her 5-year-old son still doesn’t speak. Rather than follow the ancestral tradition of giving water to her newborn, she chose to exclusively breastfeed her last child until he was 6 months old. The group asserted that this choice had led to the child’s developmental problems.
My immediate reaction to the scene was, “Peer pressure is a true obstacle to promoting optimal breastfeeding in Djibouti!”