Infant feeding knowledge and practices among lactating mothers in Kwale County, Kenya

  • N.M. Wekesa
  • A Makokha
  • V.W. Wanjihia
  • R.W. Lihana
  • Satoshi Kaneko
  • Mohamed Karama


Background: Lactating mother’s knowledge on infant feeding and its practices are key determinants of children’s nutritional status and future food habits. In Kenya, stunting rates among children below five years is 26 %. Objective: To assess infant feeding knowledge and practices among lactating mothers in Kwale County where stunting stands at 29%.

Design: A cohort study. Setting: Maternal and Child Health clinics or respective households.

Subjects: Lactating mothers who were part of the baseline survey.

Results: One hundred and ninety-seven lactating mothers were interviewed. Most mothers (65.3%) had knowledge of breastfeeding within the first hour and majority (91.8%), gave colostrum to the newly born. Majority (84%) had no knowledge on expressing a mother’s milk for later use. Complementary feeds had been introduced by 48.2% of which more than a quarter gave before six months. Maize meal porridge was the common weaning food in addition to mother’s milk. There was a significant relationship between: breast feeding advice given during antenatal care and use of colostrum (r = 0.165, N = 197, p = 0.021); breastfeeding initiation and pre-lacteal feeding (r = - 0.264, N = 197, p = 0.0001); parity and place of birth (r = 0.184, N = 197, p = 0.001) as well as pre- lacteal feeding and use of colostrum (r = - 0.289, N = 197, p = 0.0001).

Conclusion: There was poor knowledge of preservation of mother’s milk and dietary diversity during complementary feeding. There is need for an intervention to empower mothers on best practices for optimal growth and development of infants.


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eISSN: 0012-835X