Oluremi Adeleye sentenced to 15 years in Jail for force feeding a child
On May 3rd 2019, a judge in Prince George's County Circuit Court, Maryland, sentenced 73-year old Oluremi Adeleye, to 15 years in prison for force feeding 8-month old Enita Salubi.
Adeleye was caught on a nanny cam pouring nearly eight ounces of milk down the infant's throat, after the latter woke her up from a nap.
In her defence, Adeleye testified that 'she was “cup-feeding” the baby to ensure it didn’t go hungry.'
Force feeding is quite common in Nigeria as most parents believe a child should be forced to eat if he/she refuses food.
Enimien Inegbedion, who runs a nursery in Lagos state, says that some parents complain to her that their children don't finish the food they take to school.
"I tell them that we encourage them to eat, but we won't force them."
Some moms like Kofo and Tosin believe that toddlers should have easy access to their meals, so that when they are hungry they can just go and get their food themselves. "I tried it and it really works," says Kofo.
According to Dr Ada Ezeogu, a UNICEF Nutritionist, "Not every child has a large appetite and as long as your child is healthy and growing well, there’s no need to force-feed."
She also says that if a child refuses food, it could be that the child is not hungry, doesn't like the food, or is unwell.
Saying that, we also don't recommend to feed an infant any solid food items before they complete 6-months of exclusive breast-feeding. There have been many cases where the parents are confused and end up introducing solids early to their little ones.
Babies don’t always cry because they are hungry
The mothers who introduced solid foods to their babies early felt that they had good reasons for doing so. For example, they feel that their babies are old enough to digest food, need additional nutrients other than breastmilk or infant formula, or that babies become fussy due to hunger, and so they need food.
Some mothers argue, “Well, maybe my little one will sleep more soundly and happily if I feed her porridge or bananas. Maybe she is crying because of hunger.”
Babies don’t cry due to hunger ONLY, mums! All babies, especially newborn babies, often cry a lot because it is their only method of communication with adults to deliver their needs.
This doesn’t mean that every cry translates to hunger. There could be other reasons. For instance, their diaper is wet, loud noises shocked them, they feel cold, or want to be loved and picked up.
If your little one is under six months old and constantly cries despite breastfeeding, you should consult a paediatrician.
Do NOT recklessly feed your baby because you think your baby is hungry. At the same time, it is important to educate other caregivers of your baby (especially if they are elderly) on the specifics of newborn baby food intake and requirements.
Ignorance is dangerous, and as proven in the case of this hapless baby, deadly.
Share this article with your friends so that more mums and other caregivers of little ones understand the dangers of force-feeding babies.
Also read: How to deal with picky eaters