Nepal Nutrition and Food Security Bulletin #3: Breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices are less than adequate among mothers of children 12-23 months in the Baitadi district of Nepal
This study was designed to improve the understanding of attitudes, beliefs and practices in relation to infant and young child feeding in the Baitadi district of Nepal. The study was conducted in order to inform the design and implementation of effective and appropriate interventions for ensuring optimal feeding practices for infants and young children in the district. Quantitative data on 750 children aged 12-23 months and their families, selected using a multi-stage cluster sampling technique, was analyzed. In addition, qualitative data from six focus group discussions with a sub-group of mothers and in-depth interviews with six mothers-in-law and six husbands were also analyzed. Our findings suggest that there was a general understanding of optimal infant and young child feeding practices among study participants; however, actual practices were not always consistent with maternal understanding or beliefs. For example, there was widespread knowledge about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, but mothers still provided water to children around 2 months after delivery. Similarly, mothers only provided a limited variety of complementary foods, which often lacked animal-source foods in particular, because of a widespread misperception that children cannot digest animal-source foods. Our results underscore the importance of working toward the realization of optimal feeding for infants and young children, particularly focusing on exclusive breastfeeding and the enhancement of complementary diets, including the promotion of animal-source foods. Our findings also provide considerable insights into current attitudes and practices in relation to infant and young child feeding that can help shape nutrition interventions in the Baitadi district of Nepal, such as education for the promotion of positive behavior change.