Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-lm8cj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-09T02:38:27.082Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

A qualitative exploration of rural feeding and weaning practices, knowledge and attitudes on nutrition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2007

R Kruger*
Department Consumer Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
GJ Gericke
Division of Human Nutrition, University of Pretoria, South Africa
*Corresponding author: Email
Rights & Permissions [Opens in a new window]


Core share and HTML view are not possible as this article does not have html content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.

An exploratory qualitative investigation was done to determine the feeding and weaning practices, knowledge and attitudes towards nutrition of mothers/caregivers of children up to 3 years old attending baby clinics in the Moretele district (South Africa).


Qualitative data collection on six relevant nutrition topics was done using focus group interviews. Trained moderators, using a pre-tested, structured interview schedule, interviewed participants in six age groups. Focus group interviews were taped, transcribed and translated. Content analysis produced systematic data descriptions and ethnography provided descriptive data.


Breast-feeding was the choice feed and bottle-feeding was only given when breast-feeding was impossible. Solid food was introduced early (at 2–3 months) and a mixed family diet at 7–9 months. Milk feeds were stopped completely from 18–24 months. Weaning diets were compromised due to poor food choices, preparation practices and limited variety. The participant's nutrition knowledge regarding specific foods, their functions and recommended quantities was poor. The women adhered to their cultural beliefs regarding food choices and preparation practices.


The data analysis revealed that inadequate nutrition knowledge and adherence to cultural practices lead to poor-quality feeding practices. Cultural factors and taboos have a powerful influence on feeding practices and eating patterns. Young mothers often find it impossible to ignore their ill-informed elders or peer group. Nutrition knowledge needs to be changed in a first step towards implementing improved feeding practices. Facilitated group discussions could focus on possible solutions for the identified nutrition-related problems.

Research Article
Copyright © CABI Publishing 2003


1Patel, DN, Pettifor, JM. Malnutrition in South Africa. S. Afr. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 1992; 4(2): 22–3.Google Scholar
2Ocloo, E. Chronic undernutrition and the young. Proc. Nutr. Soc. 1993; 52: 11–7.Google Scholar
3Steyn, NP, Badenhorst, CJ, Nel, JH, Jooste, PL. The nutritional status of Pedi preschool children in two rural areas of Lebowa. S. Afr. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 1992; 4(2): 24–8.Google Scholar
4Steyn, NP, Badenhorst, CJ, Nel, JH, Ladzani, R. Breastfeeding and weaning practices of Pedi mothers and the dietary intakes of their preschool children. S. Afr. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 1993; 5(1): 10–3.Google Scholar
5Ng'andu, NH, Watts, TEE. Child growth and duration of breastfeeding in urban Zambia. J. Epidemiol. Community Health 1990; 44: 281–5.Google Scholar
6Kibel, MA, Wagstaff, LA, eds. Child Health For All. A Manual for Southern Africa, 2nd ed. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
7Hendricks, KM, Badruddin, SH. Weaning recommendations: the scientific basis. Nutr. Rev. 1992; 50(5): 125–33.Google Scholar
8Biesheuvel, S. Cross-cultural psychology: its relevance to South Africa. In: Mauer, KF, Retief, AI, eds. Psychology in Context: Cross-cultural Research Trends in South Africa. Pretoria: HSRC, 1987; 135.Google Scholar
9Denzin, NK, Lincoln, YS, eds. Handbook of Qualitative Research. London: Sage Publications, 1994.Google Scholar
10Stewart, DW, Shamdasani, PN. Focus Groups. Theory and Practice. Applied Social Research Methods Series, Vol. 20. London: Sage Publications, 1990.Google Scholar
11Morgan, DL. Focus Groups as Qualitative Research. Qualitative Research Methods Series, Vol. 16. London: Sage Publications, 1988Google Scholar
12Neuman, WL. Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1997.Google Scholar
13Kruger, R, Gericke, GJ. Breastfeeding practices of mothers with children (aged 0–36 months) in a rural area of South Africa. A qualitative approach. J. Fam. Ecol. Cons. Sci. 2001; 29: 6071.Google Scholar
14Krippendorf, K. Content Analysis. An Introduction to its Methodology. The Sage COMMTEXT Series, Vol. 5. London: Sage Publications, 1980.Google Scholar
15MacIntyre, UE, Ruhle, M. Impoverished Africa – time to restress the value of breast-feeding. S. Afr. Med. J. 1995; 85(1): 45.Google Scholar
16Zöllner, E, Carlier, ND. Breast-feeding and weaning practices in Venda, 1990. S. Afr. Med. J. 1993; 83: 580–3.Google Scholar
17Huffman, SL, Martin, LH. First feedings: optimal feeding of infants and toddlers. Nutr. Res. 1994; 14: 127–59.Google Scholar
18Walker, AF. The contribution of weaning foods to protein–energy malnutrition. Nutr. Res. Rev. 1990; 3: 2547.Google Scholar
19Van Staden, E, Langenhoven, ML, Donald, PR, Laubscher, JA. Dietary intake of children with failure to thrive. S. Afr. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 1994; 6(3): 90–3.Google Scholar
20Van Wyk, JJ. Sosio-kulturele verband van voedsel en voedselgebruike. J. Diet. Home Econ. 1990; 18(3): 80–5.Google Scholar
21Steyn, NP, Robertson, H-L, Mekuria, M, Labadarios, D. Household food security – what health professionals should know. S. Afr. Med. J. 1998; 88(1): 75–9.Google Scholar
22Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). Preventing Micronutrient Malnutrition: A Guide to Food-based Approaches. Washington, DC: ILSI, 1997.Google Scholar
23Glinsman, WH, Bartholmey, SJ, Coletta, F. Dietary guidelines for infants: a timely reminder. Nutr. Rev. 1996; 54(2): 50–7.Google Scholar
24Abusabha, R, Peacock, J, Achterberg, C. How to make nutrition education more meaningful through facilitated group discussions. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 1999; 99(1): 72–6.Google Scholar