Background Infants and young children are at an increased risk of malnutrition from six months of age onwards, when breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet all their nutritional requirements and complementary feeding should be started. Hence this study was undertaken to assess the practices of complementary feeding. Method This hospital-based cross-sectional study was conducted at two private hospitals - Dr TMA Pai Hospital Udupi and Dr TMA Pai Hospital Karkala and a public hospital, Regional Advanced Paediatric Care Centre, Mangalore, of coastal south India for a two-month period from August 2010 to October 2010. Two-hundred mothers of children between six months and two years attending the paediatric outpatient departments of the above-mentioned hospitals for growth monitoring, immunisation and minor illnesses such as upper respiratory tract infections were selected for the study. The subjects were selected for the study by the order of their arrival to the outpatient department during the study period. Results In the present study 77.5% mothers had started complementary feeding at the recommended time of six months. Only 32% of mothers were giving an adequate quantity of complementary feeds. The association of initiation of complementary feeding with socio-economic status, birth order, place of delivery and maternal education was found to be statistically significant. However the practice of giving an adequate quantity of complementary feeds was significantly associated only with the place of delivery. Conclusion In the present study, initiation of complementary feeding at the recommended time of six months was seen in the majority of children. However the quantity of complementary feeding was insufficient. Advice about breast feeding and complementary feeding during antenatal check-ups and postnatal visits might improve feeding practices.
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