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Objective: The objective of this study was to determine infant feeding practices and the effect of early complementary feeding on the nutritional status of children in Makada Community, Sabon Gari Local Government Area (LGA), Kaduna State, Nigeria. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out. The sample consists of 100 mothers (and their children), selected randomly from the turnout of women at the Makada Health Centre’s Tuesday child clinic. The study instrument was a self-validated structured questionnaire that solicited information on demography, breastfeeding, types and time of complementary feeding, immunizations, age and weight of children and any special foods given to children. Data on the nutritional status of children were obtained using the weights, heights and ages of children. The association between the nutritional status of the child and the period food was introduced was evaluated using Chi- square analysis. Results: The results showed that 50% of mothers had no formal education, 33% had Islamic/primary, 10% secondary and 7% post-secondary education. On occupation, the respondents were mostly housewives (50%); 30% were food vendors, 19% were petty traders and 1% farmers. Ten percent (10%) of the respondent’s breast fed their children with colostrums. On the question of age, time and type of food given before six months, 70% gave herbs/water, 12% gave water and pap, 5% gave infant formula/fresh cow milk, 3% gave honey/sugar, while 10% fully breastfed. Fifty-nine percent of respondents fell within the normal weight range, while the remaining 41% of 3-6 months and 7-12 months were found to be underweight. The result of the chi-square analysis revealed association between the age at which food was introduced to children and their nutritional status. Conclusion: The study concluded that early introduction of complementary foods may have negative effect on the weight of the children and is also associated with undernourishment.
Key words: Feeding practices, early complementary feeding, nutritional status, child health