Appropriate feeding practices are crucial for survival, growth, and development in childhood. This paper analyzes Pakistan's Demographic and Health Survey 2012–2013 to fill the knowledge gap in risk factors of poor complementary feeding practices in Pakistani children. Multilevel models were applied to fit the multistage cluster sample of 2,827 children aged 6–23 months from 489 communities. Introduction of solid, semi-solid, or soft foods (intro) was achieved in 67% infants aged 6–8 months. Among children aged 6–23 months, the proportion of children meeting minimum meal frequency, dietary diversity (MDD), and acceptable diet criteria were 63%, 22% and 15%, respectively. Consumption of legumes and nuts, flesh foods, and vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables was low in all children (6–19%), even among children who met the MDD criteria (15–55%). Younger child age, especially between 6 and 11 months and delayed maternal postnatal checkup were significant individual-level risk factors that consistently increased the odds of not meeting all four criteria examined. Fewer antenatal care visits predicted the odds of achieving intro and minimum meal frequency while younger maternal age and household poverty predicted the odds of achieving MDD and minimum acceptable diet. Community-level factors included geographic region and general access to maternal and child health care services. The overall poor quality of children's complementary diets in Pakistani calls for stronger policy and program action to promote the consumption of key nutrient-dense foods while prioritizing interventions for the most vulnerable children and populations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health