Objectives: To investigate infant feeding practices followed by Pakistani mothers in Pakistan and in England. To establish if practices conform to current guidelines and to investigate reasons for adherence and nonadherence.
Methods: Ninety mothers of weaning age children were interviewed; 45 were in England and 45 in Pakistan. A questionnaire available in English and Urdu sought to find out about the methods of milk feeding and weaning used and the advice received, together with general beliefs about weaning.
Results: Characteristics of the infants in terms of current age, gender distribution, birth order of baby and age of weaning showed no significant differences between the two groups. Thus, differences between the two groups could be attributed to cultural differences rather than any of these factors. Chi-square analysis showed that the initial method of feeding chosen was significantly different (P < 0.001, d.f. = 2) with 73% of mothers in Pakistan breast-feeding compared with 24% in England. Similar proportions of mothers in both groups commenced weaning between 3 and 4 months. Common weaning foods included rice, cereals and eggs with progression to fruit and vegetables and family food in Pakistan, and fruit, vegetables, meat and convenience foods (especially sweet options) in England. Both groups of mothers wanted more information about infant feeding practices.
Conclusion: Mothers in Pakistan demonstrated more confidence in weaning practices than in England because of experiences with other siblings and advice from relatives. More advice from health professionals was requested and is needed by all mothers in order to improve weaning practices of the infants.