Feeding practices and child stunting during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study

Published: 25 May 2023
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Background. In the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children suffering from stunting had escalated globally due to socio-economic challenges. This may worsen the nutritional status and health of children under 5 years. Objective. This study aimed to explore the parental feeding practices among children aged 24-59 months who have stunted growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Materials and Methods. Eleven semi-structured individual interviews were conducted involving primary caregivers of stunting children in the family. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed thematically. Results. Three major themes were identified: i) child-feeding practices during the COVID-19 pandemic; ii) feeding style among the primary caregivers of stunting children; iii) parents’ efforts to improve nutritional intake. This finding shows that child feeding is a complex interaction between parent-feeding practices and child-eating behavior that affect the nutritional status of children. Conclusions. The feeding practices of children suffering from stunting during the COVID-19 pandemic have been the greatest challenge faced by many caregivers. The accessibility of food, economic condition, and parental knowledge contributed to this situation. Healthcare providers are expected to strengthen nutrition education to improve proper feeding practices and provide support for families during the pandemic.

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