Use of multiple opportunities for improving feeding practices in under-twos within child health programmes

Nita Bhandari, Sarmila Mazumder, Rajiv Bahl, José Martines, Robert E. Black, Maharaj K. Bhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: In a community randomized trial, we aimed to promote exclusive breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding practices in under-twos to ascertain the feasibility of using available channels for nutrition counselling, their relative performance and the relationship between intensity of counselling and behaviour change. We also assessed whether using multiple opportunities to impart nutrition education adversely affected routine activities. Methods: We conducted a community randomized, controlled effectiveness trial in rural Haryana, India, with four intervention and four control communities. We trained health and nutrition workers in the intervention communities to counsel mothers at multiple contacts on breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months and on appropriate complementary feeding practices thereafter. The intervention was not just training health and nutrition workers in counselling but included community and health worker mobilization. Findings: In the intervention group, about 32% of caregivers were counselled by traditional birth attendants at birth. The most frequent sources of counselling from birth to 3 months were immunization sessions (45.1%) and home visits (32.1%), followed closely by weighing sessions (25.5%); from 7 to 12 months, home visits (42.6%) became more important than the other two. An increase in the number of channels through which caregivers were counselled was positively associated with exclusive breastfeeding prevalence at 3 months (p = 0.002), consumption of milk/ cereal gruel or mix use at 9 months (p = 0.004) and 18 months (p = 0.003), undiluted milk at 9 months (p<0.0001) and 24 hour non-breast-milk energy intakes at 18 months (p = 0.023), after controlling for potential confounding factors. Intervention areas, compared with the control, had higher coverage for vitamin A (45% vs. 11.5%) and iron folic acid (45% vs. 0.4%) supplementation. Conclusions: Using multiple available opportunities and workers for counselling caregivers was feasible, resulted in high coverage and impact, and instead of disrupting ongoing services, resulted in their improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-336
Number of pages9
JournalHealth policy and planning
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Child health
  • Feeding practices
  • Nutrition counselling
  • Nutrition education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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