Acta Scientific Nutritional Health (ASNH)(ISSN: 2582-1423)

Research Article Volume 7 Issue 8

Qualitative Investigation of Infant (birth-6 months’ age) feeding practices among First Time Mothers in rural Nigeria

Mary Mathew1* and Dan Apagu Gadzama2

1Department of Community Medicine, Federal University of Lafia, Lafia, Nasarawa State, Nigeria
2Department of Planning, Research and Statistics, Federal Capital Territory Primary Health Care Board, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria

*Corresponding Author: Mary Mathew, Department of Community Medicine, Federal University of Lafia, Lafia, Nasarawa State, Nigeria.

Received: June 26, 2023; Published: July 10, 2023


Early nutrition is crucially important for children to survive, grow and develop into healthy adults and improving nutrition in the first six months of life is widely been recognized as an international priority. This study was the first of its type in having a qualitative investigation into types and understanding of feeding practices among 24 first time mothers, half of which were practicing exclusive breastfeeding (EBF). They were randomly selected and voluntarily interviewed in primary health centers in the north and south of Nigeria using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. The interviews and discussions were digitally voice recorded, transcribed and thematically analyzed using a constructionist approach. The study revealed a wide range of infant feeding practices that are practiced together with breast milk that include water, ‘peak’ liquid milk, ‘pap’, ‘kunu giya’, custard, native medicine in the first six months of age. ‘Kunu giya’, an alcoholic drink was practiced by the Goemai tribe.
My epistemological position as a ‘social constructionist’ researcher was the theoretical framework applied as it goes further than the interpretative approach by not only asking questions about people’s interpretations of an issue but taking the issue with the very concept of a pre-existing reality in understanding human behavior. Settings were observed, described and interpreted, maintaining “empathic neutrality" to prevent reflexivity.
The study concluded that successful Federal Government of Nigeria strategies to improve breastfeeding need to involve health care services, communities and families. At the same time, types of infant feeding apart from exclusive breastfeeding need to be discontinued by giving mothers correct information, gaining male support for EBF, and empowering mothers in the community to be ‘peer change agents for exclusive breastfeeding’.

Keywords: Infant Feeding; First-Time Mothers; Qualitative Investigation; Breast Feeding; Nigeria


  1. United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). “Malnutrition rates remain alarming: stunting is declining too slowly while wasting still impacts the lives of far too many young children”. Malnutrition in children- UNICEF data (2018).
  2. World Health Organization. “The importance of infant and young child feeding and recommended practices”. Infant and Young Child Feeding: Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals (2018).
  3. National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS). National Bureau of Statistics. Federal Government of Nigeria (2018).
  4. PAHO/WHO. “Guiding principles for complementary feeding of the breastfed child”. PAHO/WHO Division of Health Promotion and Protection/Food and Nutrition Program, Washington, DC, USA (2003).
  5. Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations In Nutrition Globally (Spring). Nigeria: Complementary Feeding and Food Demonstration Training. Complementary Feeding Manual (2016).
  6. Ruel MT. “Progress in Developing Indicators to Measure Complementary Feeding Practices”. In: SCN News. Meeting the Challenge to Improve Complementary Feeding, Moreira, A.D. (Ed.). United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition, Lavenhem Press, UK (2003): 20-22.
  7. Udoh EE and Amoku OK. “Complementary feeding practices among mothers and nutritional status of infants in Akpabuyo Area, Cross River State Nigeria”. Springerplus1 (2016).
  8. National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS). National Population commission. Federal Government of Nigeria (2018).
  9. Anoshirike CO., et al. “Infant Feeding Practices among Mothers and their Infants attending Maternal and Child Health in Enugu, Nigeria”. Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare10 (2014).
  10. Okwori E., et al. “Infant Feeding Practices and the Effect of Early Complementary Feeding on Child Nutritional Status in Makada, Sabon Gari Local Government Area, Kaduna State, Nigeria”. Nigerian Journal of Nutritional Sciences2 (2011).
  11. “Better breastfeeding. Healthier lives”. Population reports. Issues in World Health. Series L 14 (2006).
  12. Ruel M. “A qualitative study of the patterns of infant feeding and care in the Hinche area of Plateau Central, Haiti”. IFPRI Cornell Research team (2005): 7-8.
  13. Okolo SN., et al. “Current breastfeeding knowledge, attitude, and practices of mothers in five rural communities in the Savannah region of Nigeria”. Journal of Tropical Pediatrics9 (1999): 323-326.
  14. Green J and Thorogood N. “Analysing qualitative data”. In Qualitative Methods for Health Research Sage, London (2004): 180-190.
  15. Naidoo J and Wills J. “Health Studies: An Introduction. 2nd Palgrave Macmillan (2001).
  16. Nagin MK. “The content and composition of breast milk”. Breastfeeding (2008).
  17. Davies-Adetugbo AA. “Sociocultural factors and the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding in rural Yoruba communities of Osun State, Nigeria”. Social science and Medicine1 (1997): 113-125.
  18. Nankunda J., et al. “Community based peer counselors for support of exclusive breastfeeding: experiences from rural Uganda”. International Breastfeeding Journal. 1.19 (2006).
  19. Nwankwo BO and Brieger WR. “Exclusive breastfeeding is undermined by use of other liquids in rural southwestern Nigeria”. Journal of Tropical Pediatrics 3 (2003): 193.
  20. Gibney M., et al. Chapter 1, 5, 9 and 10: “Public Health Nutrition”. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. The Nutrition Society (2004).
  21. Aghaji MN. “Exclusive breast feeding practice and associated factors in Enugu, Nigeria”. West African Journal of Medicine 1 (2002): 66-69.
  22. Brown KH., et al. “Infant Nutrition market: Birds Eye View”. Food Industry News. Issues in FlexNews (2009).
  23. Jellife DB and Jellife EFB. “The volume and composition of human milk in poorly nourished communities: A review”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 31 (1978): 492-515.
  24. Dewey KG and Brown KH. “Update on technical issues concerning complimentary feeding of young children in developing countries and implications for intervention programs”. Food and Nutrition Bulletin 24 (2003): 5-28.
  25. Park K. Preventive medicine in Obstetrics, Paediatrics and Geriatrics. Park’s Textbook of “Preventive and Social Medicine”. 17 Edition. M/s Banarsidas Bhanot. Jabalpur (2002).
  26. Yovsi RD and Keller H. “Breastfeeding an adaptive process (2001).
  27. Kakute PN., et al. “Cultural Barriers to Exclusive Breastfeeding by Mothers in a Rural Area of Cameroon, Africa”. Journal of Midwifery and Womens Health. Special Issue - International Health4 (2005): 324-328.
  28. Merson MH., et al. Nutrition. “International public health: diseases, programs, systems, and policies”. 2nd Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett (2006).
  29. Kramer MS and Kakuna R. “The optimal duration of Exclusive Breastfeeding. A systematic review”. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (2002).


Citation: Mary Mathew and Dan Apagu Gadzama. “Qualitative Investigation of Infant (birth-6 months’ age) feeding practices among First Time Mothers in rural Nigeria".Acta Scientific Nutritional Health 7.8 (2023): 46-53.


Copyright: © 2023 Mary Mathew and Dan Apagu Gadzama. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Acceptance rate30%
Acceptance to publication20-30 days
Impact Factor1.316

Indexed In

News and Events

Contact US