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Food Nutr Bull. 2003 Mar;24(1):45-82.

Improving feeding practices: current patterns, common constraints, and the design of interventions.

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Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.


We propose a set of "best-practice complementary feeding behaviors," which were derived by combining principles of psychosocial care with current knowledge in nutritional sciences. We provide a theoretical rationale for assessing and describing complementary feeding practices in terms of what is fed, how food is prepared and given, who feeds the child, when food is fed (frequency and scheduling), and the feeding environment (where). We also discuss the significance of selected sociocultural determinants of these practices for the design of interventions. We then review 18 case studies in relation to these practices and their determinants. The exercise, in which we abstracted data from ethnographic reports, revealed areas of congruence and deviations from best-practice behaviors. The data on feeding practices are described with a common framework to facilitate comparison across sites. Key themes emerging from the studies include the significance of the larger family, the effects of competing maternal time demands, and the importance of parental perceptions and cultural constructs in affecting complementary feeding practices. Finally, we discuss the implications of the findings for future interventions.

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