Background: Poor feeding practices in early childhood contribute to the burden of childhood malnutrition and morbidity.
Objective: To estimate the key indicators of breastfeeding and complementary feeding and the determinants of selected feeding practices in Sri Lanka.
Methods: The sample consisted of 1127 children aged 0 to 23 months from the Sri Lanka Demographic and Health Survey 2000. The key infant feeding indicators were estimated and selected indicators were examined against a set of individual-, household-, and community-level variables using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: Breastfeeding was initiated within the first hour after birth in 56.3% of infants, 99.7% had ever been breastfed, 85.0% were currently being breastfed, and 27.2% were being bottle-fed. Of infants under 6 months of age, 60.6% were fully breastfed, and of those aged 6 to 9 months, 93.4% received complementary foods. The likelihood of not initiating breastfeeding within the first hour after birth was higher for mothers who underwent cesarean delivery (OR = 3.23) and those who were not visited by a Public Health Midwife at home during pregnancy (OR = 1.81). The rate of full breastfeeding was significantly lower among mothers who did not receive postnatal home visits by a Public Health Midwife. Bottlefeeding rates were higher among infants whose mothers had ever been employed (OR = 1.86), lived in a metropolitan area (OR = 3.99), or lived in the South-Central Hill country (OR = 3.11) and were lower among infants of mothers with secondary education (OR = 0.27). Infants from the urban (OR = 8.06) and tea estate (OR = 12.63) sectors were less likely to receive timely complementary feeding than rural infants.
Conclusions: Antenatal and postnatal contacts with Public Health Midwives were associated with improved breastfeeding practices. Breastfeeding promotion strategies should specifically focus on the estate and urban or metropolitan communities.