Feeding pattern of children in day care centres in Port Harcourt metropolis
Objective: To determine the feeding pattern of day care attendees aged 0-35 months in Port Harcourt metropolis.
Methodology : Following appropriate approvals, a pilot-tested questionnaire was used to obtain the socio-demographic data and information on the feeding pattern of 10 day care attendees aged 0- 35 months who met the study criteria selected from each of 200 schools using a stratified multistage random sampling technique. Data entry and analyses utilised SPSS version 20 and statistical significance was set at p<0.05.
Results: Between November, 2011 and July, 2012, 1541 children comprised of 766 (49.7%) males and 775 (50.3%) females were studied. They were aged 5- 34months (mean 23.78 ± 7.04 months, median 25 months and modal 24 months) with 110(7.2%) children aged less than 12 months and 283(18%) aged less than 18 months. Although 102(6.6%) children were still breastfeeding, none of the 21 (1.4%) children aged less than 6 months was being exclusively breastfed. Complementary feeding commenced at age 6- 8 months in 747(48.5%) children, before 6 months in 613(39.8%) and after 9 months in 181(11.7%) children. The ages at starting day care attendance which ranged from 1-25 months with 56.3% children starting before 11 months of age statistically significantly influenced the ages at which complementary feeding commenced (χ2= 53.431, df = 8, p = 0.000). The main foods fed to day care attendees while at day care centres were adult diet for 1152 (74.8%) children and breast milk and/or cereals for 389 (25.2%). Daily feeding frequencies while at the centre which ranged between 1-6 times and decreased with the child’s age an the age was statistically significantly affected by the child’s age, the feeding frequency (p = 0.000).
Conclusion: The feeding pattern of these day care attendees did not comply with the recommendations of the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Guidelines. This situation at a national level may contribute to the high prevalence of under-five malnutrition and calls for strategies to correct these deficiencies.
Key words: Feeding pattern, Day care attendees, Day care centres,