Journal article Open Access

Information seeking of French parents regarding infant and young child feeding: practices, needs and determinants

Sofia De Rosso; Sophie Nicklaus; Pauline Ducrot; Camille Schwartz

Objective: As part of an update of feeding benchmarks targeting children aged 0–3 years, this study aimed to explore parental perceptions, information-seeking practices and needs concerning infant and young child feeding (IYCF) to design an efficient communication strategy. Design: Participants were recruited using the quota sampling to complete an online survey. Effects of parity, child age, prematurity, parental education and financial situation on parents’ responses were evaluated separately. Setting: France. Participants: A nationally representative sample of 1001 parents of children <4 years. Results: Parents whose child had any medical condition affecting feeding (children with medical condition (CMC), 17 %) were considered separately from healthy children’s parents. All the healthy children’s parents recognised the importance of IYCF for children’s health and growth; however, one-third considered the available advice contradictory and not guilt-free. The most used information sources were healthcare professionals (HCP, 81 %), internet (72 %) and parental networks (63 %). The most influential sources (mean influence ± SD) included HCP (7·7 ± 1·7/10), childcare professionals (7·3 ± 1·8/10) and parental networks (6·9 ± 1·8/10). Parents searched for practical tips for implementing IYCF starting when their child was 5 months old. Differences regarding the type of source used by parents with higher v. lower educations were small. Search strategies differed according to parity or child age but not to prematurity. The CMC parents reported slightly different practices and needs. Conclusions: Parents receive information from multiple sources, which can lead to confusion when deciding which advice to follow. A public health communication strategy adapted to the current parental needs should target these various sources.

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