To understand local infant and young child feeding practices of caregivers of children aged 6 – 23 months to develop a home fortification program using micronutrient powder (MNP)
Children 6 – 23 months (n = 144) were enrolled in an 8 weeks home-feeding trial in Adamawa and Kebbi states. Repeated, full-day observations (n = 18) were carried out among a sub-set of enrolled children. In depth interviews (n = 68) were conducted among caregivers and salient themes were identified using an inductive approach to analysis.
Seasonality was identified as an influence on the availability of foods for young children. Intra and inter household food sharing is common and has cultural values. This may extend to MNP sharing. Dietary monotony was identified as a reason for refusal of staple foods by children, often leading to forced feeding by caregivers. Direct observations also supported this by revealing the main foods consumed by children are cereal-based staples with animal-source proteins largely missing. Kunu’ a cereal based porridge was ranked 2nd in Kebbi and 3rd in Adamawa as the most commonly observed food consumed.
The lack of dietary diversity in young children’s diets highlights the opportunity and strong need for the introduction of MNP during home fortification in this setting. Food sharing may be a potential barrier to the appropriate use of MNP, so culturally-appropriate behavior change communications should complement programming to create enabling environments for the appropriate use of MNP and promotion of infant and young child feeding practices.