Infant Feeding Practices and Associated Factors Through the First 9 Months of Life in Bavaria, Germany

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Abstract

Objectives:

To investigate infant feeding and breast-feeding practices during the first 9 months of life in Bavaria, Germany, in relation to recommendations and to identify factors associated with early feeding of semisolid food.

Materials and Methods:

Data from 3103 infants throughout Bavaria, Germany, were collected in a prospective cohort study. Questionnaires were administered at the age of 6 days, and 2, 4, 6, and 9 months.

Results:

There was a considerable variety concerning the time when complementary feeding was introduced. Only 16.4% of the infants ate solid/semisolid food before the age of 5 months. Most of the infants received as their first solid food a mash of vegetable, meat, and potato. Compared to national guidelines fluids were introduced early. More than 37% of the breast-fed infants received additional fluids/formula. The strongest risk factor associated with complementary feeding before the fifth month was breast-feeding duration of less than 4 months (any breast-feeding) with an odds ratio of 8.57 (95% confidence interval 6.16–11.94). Other factors were low level of education, young age of the mother, smoking habit of the mother, and mother not being born in Germany.

Conclusions:

Further improvements in nutrition of infants may be achieved in 2 ways: promotion of breast-feeding according to current recommendations and better counselling on the correct timing of introduction of semisolid food—especially for parents of not- or short-time breast-fed babies and focused on young mothers with low levels of education.

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