An exploration of the knowledge of and involvement of fathers in the practice of complementary feeding of infants and young children in Tsholotsho District, Zimbabwe
The first 1000 days of life represents the period from conception right up to a child’s second birthday. Over the years, there has been a growing body of evidence focusing on the importance of nutrition during this period; also referred to as the ‘window of life’. It is during this period that most incidents of stunting occur. Age appropriate nutrition can provide a child with positive health benefits for the rest of their life. During these first two years infant and young child feeding practices are ideally made up of optimal breastfeeding practices (i.e. exclusive breastfeeding from birth up to six months and continued breastfeeding up to or beyond two years), along with age appropriate complementary feeding practices from six months up to two years. To date, local research studies that have explored the role of parents in infant and young child feeding have tended to focus, firstly, more on the mothers than the fathers, and secondly, have tended to focus more on breastfeeding than complementary feeding and practices. By conducting this research study, it was anticipated that rich information would be accessed from fathers in the district that could then be used to assist the local health workers and district health management team to improve the current infant and young child feeding interventions being implemented at district and community level specifically for children 6 to 23 months.