Research Key


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Social Economy and Family Management
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International: $20
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Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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Weaning foods have been inadequately introduced especially in the rural areas.

Most nursing mothers are known for the introduction of bulk foods as weaning foods are not taking into consideration their nutritional value based on children’s nutritional needs.

The inappropriate introduction of weaning foods in most areas is due to the high costs prices levied on fortified weaning foods like cerelac, phosphatine etc.

This study therefore seeks to produce an affordable nutritive weaning food from plants and animal sources for children (6-12 months).

1.1. Background of the Study

Weaning foods are any nutrient containing foods or liquids other than breast milk given to young children during the period of weaning feeding (six-month-24months) (WHO, 2011).

The introduction of appropriate weaning foods that provide sufficient energy and micronutrients to promote optimal growth and development, should be affordable and sustainable, weaning foods for infants are very much needed for growth and maintenance.

Weaning foods complement breast milk to provide the child with the necessary nutrients needed for growth and development. Plants and animal sources can be used in the production and formulation of weaning foods.

Maize is one of the most widely consumed cereals grains. Being a good source of antioxidant carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, yellow or white maize may promote eye health. It is also a rich source of many vitamins and minerals. Maize can be converted into other food substances such as cornflakes, corn biscuit and corn cake (Bissong and Dinyuy, 2017).

Soybeans is rich in protein (40%) and fats (20%) (Bender and Bender, 1999). Soya beans contain moderate quantities of tryptophan and threonine. Soya bean also has all essential amino acids and low in saturated fatty acids, which needs to be avoided (Egounlety and Aworh, 2014).

The gardens snails rely on diet rich in calcium and other nutrients to support the growth and repair of its shell as well as its overall health. Snails are low in calories and high in proteins. A 3 – ounce portion of snails served plain contain just 76 calories. However snails are low-fat, protein-rich and good source of a variety of essential vitamins and minerals including magnesium and selenium (Marsyha et al., 2018).

Crayfish is one of the cheapest sources of animal protein in Cameroon.

It is usually added in food for the purpose of adding flavor and improving taste. Fish flesh generally contains mainly water, protein and fat with traces of carbohydrates, amino acids and other non-protein nitrogenous extracts, various minerals and vitamins (Onimawo and Egbekum, 1998).

The production of flours from maize, soybeans, snails and crayfish could help to improve the nutritional status of the infants.

Relative to baby size, they have much need for energy, vitamin and minerals than adults so as the baby begins the weaning process, between ages six to twelve months emphasis should be laid on the consumption of nutrient dense foods to support the baby’s healthy growth and development.

To guide the whole food choices to babies, mothers should focus on the following nutrients in addition to nutrients gotten from breast milk. The nutrients include protein, fats, iron, vitamin C, zinc, vitamin A, calcium and omega 3 which are very critical and essential in the babies’ growth.

Fats, (particularly saturated, mono-saturated, omega 3) are particularly critical for overall health, body composition, eye, brain and nervous system development and naturally occurring whole food fats such as avocado, oily fish, coconut, eggs etc. (Brown, 2014). Iron works in the cognitive neurological, motor, and behavioral development.

The daily intake of iron recommended for children 11mg per day. Iron can be gotten from snails etc. (Brown, 2016).

Children from six months to twelve months need 500mg of calcium every day. It helps bones to become strong enough to avoid any fracture when a baby starts running and playing. Vitamin is crucial for improvement of metabolism and better immune systems. It can be gotten from carrots, maize, sweet potatoes and broccoli.

From six months to nine months of age, the baby is still learning the skills to eat solid food so his actual consumption may be low.

At this stage, the baby should be fed two to three meals a day with an average size to be only two to four table spoons for every meal (Augustin, 2014).

By nine months old, the baby can be fed with three full meals and even one to two planned and nutritious meals.

It has been proven that at the age of six months after birth, a nursing mother’s breast milk becomes less nutritive and therefore requires other complements to maintain the growth and health of a child (WHO, 2015).

Also, the nutritional needs of an infant from age six months onward can no longer be met with breast milk alone (Agostoni et al., 2008).

The ability of breast milk to meet the requirements for micronutrients and macronutrients becomes limited with the increasing age of infants (Agostoni et al., 2008).

Thus, timely introduction of weaning foods during infancy is necessary for both nutritional and developmental reasons (Agostoni et al., 2008; Kamchan et al., 2012).

However, the capacity of a weaning diet to meet the protein-energy requirements of an infant depends on its nutritional quality (Kamchan et al., 2012)

To ensure adequate energy and nutrients, an infant’s diet must be gradually expanded to include weaning foods (Dewey and Brown, 2015). When children’s appetite is reduced during illness, consumption of weaning foods is recommended to maintain the nutrient intake and enhance recovery (Brown, 2011).

Locally available food crops can be used to formulate nutritious weaning foods that can contribute towards alleviating under nutrition and improve children’s development (Mitra, 2012).

Weaning foods should meet the nutrient requirement of rapidly growing children and the food should be diverse with appropriate texture and given in sufficient quantity. Poor nutritional quality and inadequate quantity of weaning foods is reported to have negative impacts on the child.

They affect growth, hamper mental development and increase infant morbidity and mortality. In developing countries, 70% of weaning foods are supplied by cereals which are relatively poor source of protein.

Formulating and development of nutritious weaning foods from locally and readily available raw materials have received a lot of attention in many developing countries. Apart from protein and energy, infants diet need calcium, iron and trace elements which can be obtained by combining local staples presently available in the country.

Soybeans is rich in protein (40%) and fats (20%) (Bender and Bender, 1999). Soybeans contain moderate quantities of tryptophan and threonine. The production of flours from maize, soybeans, snails and crayfish could help to improve the nutritional status of the infants.

Raw materials of most commercial weaning foods are not locally available. since most commercially available weaning foods are expensive so not affordable by low income mothers, the problem of malnutrition in infants can be solved by introduction of nutritious quality weaning foods, crayfish, maize, snails, soybeans and table sugar used for diet formulation in this study, are locally produced in large quantities in Cameroon yet children still die of hunger.

1.2. Problem Statement

Weaning foods are very essential to babies from six months of age because breast milk is less nutritive and can no longer satisfy the nutritional requirement of the baby. In most areas, nursing mothers find it difficult to purchase the fortified weaning foods that are sold in the market.

As such this production of the weaning food from snails, maize, crayfish and soya beans turns to be cheaper, very affordable and one can produce for her baby thus controlling hygienic conditions. This study therefore seeks to produce a local but rich weaning food capable of promoting good nutrition and health for children (6-12months).

After respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases are the commonest illnesses and have the greatest negative impact upon the growth of infants and young children. The causes of diarrhoeal diseases have traditionally been ascribed to water supply and sanitation.  

In attempts to prevent such diseases, efforts by governments and nongovernmental organizations have been focused on and sometimes limited to improving water supply and sanitation as well as promoting and protecting breast-feeding.

Based on studies reported in the literature, weaning foods prepared under unhygienic conditions are frequently heavily contaminated with pathogens and thus are a major factor in the cause of diarrhoeal diseases and associated malnutrition (Motarjemi et al., 2016).

Contamination of food including drinking water with microbial agents is the major risk factor in the transmission of diarrhoeal diseases in infants and young children. Contaminated hands and cooking utensils contribute greatly to the contamination of weaning foods, especially among mothers who do not observe proper hygienic conditions (Michaelsen et al., 2000). Therefore, careful hygienic preparation and storage of weaning foods is crucial to prevent contamination.

1.3. Research Hypothesis

H0: Nutritious weaning food can be formulated from plant and animal source

H1: Nutritious weaning food cannot be formulated from plant and animal source.

1.4. Research Objectives

1.4.1. Main Objectives

  • To carry out the proximal, microbial and shelf-life analyses of improved protein-rich weaning food formulated from soybeans, maize, crayfish and snails.

1.4.2. Specific Objectives

 To formulate a weaning food from blends of flours (maize, soybeans, snails and crayfish flour).

  To carryout sensory evaluation on the formulated weaning food.

  To assess the proximal and microbial analyses of the formulated weaning food

  To propose and design appropriate packaging for the weaning food and shelf-life analysis.

1.5. Research Question

  • How can snails, crayfish, soybeans and maize be converted to weaning food?
  • How can flour be used to formulate a weaning food?
  • Will the weaning food be nutritionally rich?
  • Will the weaning food be microbially safe?
  • How long can the weaning food stay?
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