Traditional practices and beliefs regarding nutrition of children in the 0-5 age group in western Turkey: A qualitative study
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Objective: To determine mothers' knowledge about infant nutrition and traditional influence on feeding practices which may affect the nutritional status of infants and young children. Methods: The qualitive research was carried out from May to June 2009 at a community health centre in Western Turkey, and comprised 20 mothers. Observation and semi-structured in-depth interviews were used for collecting data, which was later classified into four categories: procedures affecting mothers' breastfeeding decision; knowledge and beliefs regarding breastmilk; breastfeeding practices; and mothers' knowledge of and attitudes towards complementary nutritients/foods. The data was evaluated by theme analysis method. Even if a mother expressed an opinion other than the main theme, her views were taken into consideration. Results: The participating mothers had a mean age of 27.15 +/- 7.10 years (range: 18-40 years). Of the 20 participants, 8(40%) had primary eduaton; 10(50%) were housewives; 13(65%) had 1-2 children; and 6(30%) had children 25 to 36 months old. Women generally had traditional beliefs related to breastfeeding practices and all of the infants were being breastfed. But the mother's anxiety about the sufficiency of breastmilk and social pressure led them to introduce complementary nutritients/foods early. Conclusion: Before preparing community-based programmes to improve infant nutrition, the opinions, beliefs and needs of the mothers should be taken into account.