Objective: to discover what midwives and nurses in Turkey know and advise about nutrition in the first 6 months of life.
Design: a descriptive, cross-sectional study.
Setting: health clinics and mother and baby health and family planning centres in the municipality of Ankara.
Participants: 301 midwives and nurses selected by stratified, random sampling.
Findings: nine questions related to the features and benefits of breast milk. The mean number of questions answered correctly was 7.55 (standard deviation [SD]=1.25). Participants agreed that the babies should be breast fed for the first 6 months of life (n=184; 61.1%) and that complementary food could be introduced at 6 months of age (n=291; 96.7%). Most participants (n=223; 74.1%) recommended that mothers who have to resume work should express and store breast milk, and their babies should be fed with it. Many participants noted that there may be one or more situations when artificial milk should be given in the first 6 months of life (n=286; 95.0%). Almost all of the participants (n=292; 97.0%) gave one or more suggestions of when breast milk was sufficient or insufficient.
Conclusions: most midwives and nurses in this research had adequate knowledge related to babies in the first 6 months of life. However, with continuing education, knowledge deficits can be corrected, and awareness of their roles and responsibilities can be increased in achieving one of Turkey's priority goals for the 21st Century, that of decreasing the baby death rate.