Feeding Practices of Infants and Toddlers by Their Mothers in Selected Northern Emirates of the United Arab Emirates

Habiba I. Ali, Emmanuella Magriplis, Amita Attlee, Ayesha S. Al Dhaheri, Leila Cheikh Ismail, Lily Stojanovska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research on the feeding practices of infants and young children in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is limited, especially in the northern regions of the country. A retrospective web-based survey was conducted to assess child feeding practices among the mothers of young children aged 6 months to 2.5 years in the northern emirates of the UAE. Information from a total of 475 mothers was collected on maternal socio-demographic factors, child feeding practices, and the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. For the first 6 months, 46.7% of the infants were exclusively breastfed, 43.8% were fed on both breastmilk and formula, and 9.5% were given formula only. Significant differences in the types of feeding were found correlating with maternal age (p = 0.02) and employment status (p < 0.001) but not with educational level, with a higher proportion of younger and unemployed women exclusively breastfeeding. However, although a significantly higher proportion of mothers with lower educational levels breastfed their children for ≥6 months (p = 0.026), they introduced “other milk” (non-breastmilk or formula) before the child reached the age of 12 months (p = 0.022). In this study, 22.1% of the infants and 8.1% of the toddlers did not receive an animal source of iron, while 52.6% of the children received vitamin/mineral supplements. The median daily frequency intake of sweets and savory snacks was substantially higher than the respective intake of fruits and vegetables. Intervention programs that focus on healthy infant and toddler feeding, including food sources of iron and nutrient-dense food groups, are needed in the UAE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3719
JournalNutrients
Volume14
Issue number18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022

Keywords

  • United Arab Emirates
  • breastfeeding
  • complementary feeding
  • feeding practice
  • infants
  • toddlers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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