Nutritional status differs between infants and young children living in slum and non-slum conditions—infants and young children living in City Corporation slums are likely to have worse nutritional status compared to those from non-slums. Furthermore, families in slums tend to engage female labor in cash-earning activities as a survival strategy; hence, a higher percentage of mothers stay at work. However, little is known about feeding practices for infants and young children in families with working mothers in slums. This study aims to understand the factors that determine feeding practices for infants and young children living in families with working mothers in Dhaka slums.
This study adopted a qualitative approach. Sixteen In-depth Interviews, five Key Informant Interviews, and Focused Group Discussions were conducted with family members, community leaders, and program staff. Method triangulation and thematic analyses were conducted.
Feeding practices for infants and young children in families with working mothers are broadly determined by mothers’ occupation, basis civic facilities, and limited family buying capacity. Although mothers have good nutritional knowledge, they negotiate between work and feeding their infants and young children. Household composition, access to cooking facilities, and poverty level were also found to be significant determining factors.
The results suggest a trade-off between mothers’ work and childcare. The absence of alternative care support in homes and/or work places along with societal factors outweighs full benefits of project interventions. Improving alternative childcare support could reduce the burden of feeding practice experienced by working mothers and may improve nutritional outcomes.