Background: In India, poor feeding practices in early childhood contribute to the burden of malnutrition and infant and child mortality.
Objective: To estimate infant and young child feeding indicators and determinants of selected feeding practices in India.
Methods: The sample consisted of 20,108 children aged 0 to 23 months from the National Family Health Survey India 2005-06. Selected indicators were examined against a set of variables using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: Only 23.5% of mothers initiated breastfeeding within the first hour after birth, 99.2% had ever breastfed their infant, 89.8% were currently breastfeeding, and 14.8% were currently bottle-feeding. Among infants under 6 months of age, 46.4% were exclusively breastfed, and 56.7% of those aged 6 to 9 months received complementary foods. The risk factors for not exclusively breastfeeding were higher household wealth index quintiles (OR for richest = 2.03), delivery in a health facility (OR = 1.35), and living in the Northern region. Higher numbers of antenatal care visits were associated with increased rates of exclusive breastfeeding (OR for 2 7 antenatal visits = 0.58). The rates of timely initiation of breastfeeding were higher among women who were better educated (OR for secondary education or above = 0.79), were working (OR = 0.79), made more antenatal clinic visits (OR for 2 7 antenatal visits = 0.48), and were exposed to the radio (OR = 0.76). The rates were lower in women who were delivered by cesarean section (OR = 2.52). The risk factors for bottle-feeding included cesarean delivery (OR = 1.44), higher household wealth index quintiles (OR = 3.06), working by the mother (OR = 1.29), higher maternal education level (OR = 1.32), urban residence (OR = 1.46), and absence of postnatal examination (OR = 1.24). The rates of timely complementary feeding were higher for mothers who had more antenatal visits (OR = 0.57), and for those who watched television (OR = 0.75).
Conclusions: Revitalization of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in health facilities is recommended. Targeted interventions may be necessary to improve infant feeding practices in mothers who reside in urban areas, are more educated, and are from wealthier households.