Infant and young child feeding has been recognised as an essential element to improve growth of children, especially in developing countries where malnutrition among children and its dire consequences are very prevalent. However, little attention has been paid on the influence of fathers on child feeding practices, although fathers are very important in raising well-adjusted, happy and successful children. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the influence of fathers' child feeding knowledge and practice on children's dietary diversity. A community-based comparative cross-sectional study was conducted among 850 eligible urban and rural households with children of 6-23 months. The father and mother of the child were interviewed on children's dietary diversity and fathers' knowledge and practice of child feeding. Nearly half (46%) of the children in the rural district did not meet the minimum dietary diversity, and in the urban district, the rate was even worse (72%). Grains were the common food group given to the children in both districts, whereas flesh food was the least commonly consumed food group. Additionally, low vitamin A-rich food and other fruit and vegetable consumption seem to be a problem in both districts. Almost all dimensions of fathers' knowledge and practice were significantly related to children's minimum dietary diversity; especially, fathers' knowledge of food groups was an important predictor (P-value < 0.001) in both districts. Interventions that focus on the fathers' knowledge of child feeding, especially about food groups, are recommended to improve children's dietary diversity in the study communities.
Keywords: IYCF; dietary diversity; fathers' knowledge; fathers' practice.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.