• infant feeding;
  • child feeding;
  • infant feeding behaviour;
  • complementary feeding;
  • complementary foods;
  • dietary patterns


Inappropriate complementary feeding increases risk of undernutrition, illness and mortality in infants and children. This paper aimed to determine the factors associated with inappropriate complementary feeding practices in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Demographic and Health Survey 2006–2007 used a stratified two-stage cluster sample of ever-married women 15–49 years, and included details about foods given to children aged 6–23 months during the last 24 h. The new World Health Organization indicators for infant and young child feeding (IYCF) – (introduction of solid/semi-solid or soft foods; minimum dietary diversity; minimum meal frequency; and minimum acceptable diet) were calculated for 2106 children aged 6–23 months. These indicators were examined against explanatory variables with multivariate analyses to identify factors associated with inappropriate practices.

Eighty-four per cent of infants aged 6–8 months were introduced to complementary food. The proportion of infants aged 6–8 months who consumed eggs (7.5%), fruits and vegetables other than those rich in vitamin A (29.6%) and flesh foods (35.2%) was low. Of children aged 6–23 months, minimum dietary diversity was 71%, minimum meal frequency 88% and minimum acceptable diet 68%. Children who lived in tea estate sector had a lower dietary diversity and minimum acceptable diet than children in urban and rural areas. Other determinants of not receiving a diverse or acceptable diet were lower maternal education, shorter maternal height, lower wealth index, lack of postnatal visits, unsatisfactory exposure to media and acute respiratory infections. In conclusion, complementary feeding indicators were adequate except in the 6–11 months age group. Subgroups with inappropriate feeding practices should be the focus of IYCF promotion programs.