Parental considerations during complementary feeding in higher income countries: a systematic review of qualitative evidence

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OBJECTIVE: Worldwide data suggest a clash between parental complementary feeding practices and recommendations. Understanding the circumstances under which parents form their feeding practices is a crucial step to improve such practices. This paper aimed to systematically review the existing qualitative literature and synthesise the factors that parents take into consideration in relation to complementary feeding.

DESIGN: A systematic review was undertaken. Four electronic databases were searched for qualitative studies published after 2001 exploring parental experiences during complementary feeding. A framework that included authors' outcomes of interest was used to extract and synthesise study findings. The Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research were used to critically assess the included studies.

SETTING: Upper-middle- and high-income countries.

PARTICIPANTS: Parents with a child below the age of 3 years.

RESULTS: A total of 47 studies met the eligibility criteria and were included in this systematic review. The themes were organised into three main categories: 1) factors related to introduction of complementary foods; 2) factors related to the type of complementary foods; and 3) factors related to both timing and type. The selected literature highlights: prevalent baby cues that prompt parents to introduce solid foods; parents' views on the recommended timing of complementary feeding; factors that drive the choice of complementary foods; and perceived value in advice received from health professionals and grandmothers.

CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review indicates factors that can be barriers to complying with the complementary feeding guidelines and therefore, its findings are pertinent to improving parental feeding practices through intervention studies and through infant feeding education in a primary care setting.PROSPERO registration ID: CRD42017067091.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Early online date20 Apr 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 20 Apr 2021


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