Complementary feeding practices and nutritional status of children 6 to 24 months: A cross-sectional descriptive study

Shitemi C,  Kyallo F,  Kombe Y

Shitemi C1,  Kyallo F²,  Kombe Y ³

  1. College of Health Sciences, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya.
  2. Department of Food Science Technology, Jomo Kenya University of Agriculture and Technology.
  3. Centre for Public Health Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute (CPHR-KEMRI) Kenyatta National Hospital Complex, Kenya.

Corresponding author: Catherine Shitemi. Email:


Background: Complementary feeding refers to a process of introducing the infant to additional sources of nutrition other than the breast milk, usually at the age of six months. Infant and Young Child Feeding guidelines provided by United Nations Children’s Fund/ World Health Organization require that children are exclusively breastfed from birth to six months of age when addition foods is introduced to meet the increasing nutritional requirements of the growing child. Proper initiation of the complementary feeding is critical as any deviation may lead to inadequate energy and nutrient intake, leading to sub-optimal growth and development.

Objective: The study aimed to assess complementary feeding practices in relation to nutritional  status of children aged 6 to 24 months at the Well baby Clinic at Mbagathi Hospital, Nairobi County.

Material and Methods: A cross-sectional study involving 300 children aged 6 to 24 months was conducted at the Well Baby Clinic at Mbagathi Hospital. Anthropometric measurements were taken using standard procedures and interviewer administered questionnaire was administered to mothers to gather data on complementary feeding practices of study children. Anthropometric data was analyzed using WHO anthro2005 software and descriptive statistics analyzed using SPSS version 20. Results were presented in tables.

Results: Majority (81.7%) of children were first initiated complementary feeding at the recommended age of six months with a mean age of 5.71(±1.033). Almost a quarter (24.3%) of the children were given ≤ 3 meals per day with a mean of 4.35 (±1.210) meals per day. 15.3% of the children were wasted (W/H z-score <-2SD), 22% underweight (W/A z-score <-2SD) and 14.3% stunted (H/A z-score <-2SD.  Most complementary foods were Carbohydrates (starchy) based from locally available cereals with limited combination from other food classifications.

Conclusion and recommendation: Despite the impressive rates of compliance with the recommended age of introduction of complementary feeding, malnutrition was high among the children attending the Well Baby clinic at Mbagathi District Hospital. There is need for health care providers to proactively address gaps in complementary feeding practices especially on food diversity, food composition and frequency of meals.

 Key words: Complementary feeding practices, malnutrition, food quality, complementary food diversity.

                                                  [Afr J Health Sci. 2018; 31(1):49-50]

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