DOI: 10.5176/2251-3833_GHC15.40

Authors: Sibanda M.N, Mbhenyane, and Mushaphi


Purpose The main purpose of this study was to investigate the interpretation of the growth chart and feeding practices of caregivers of children under five years from the greater Tzaneen municipality, Limpopo province. Methods The study design was descriptive and exploratory. The study described the interpretation of growth chart and the feeding and explored the influence of mothers’ knowledge about growth of their children on feeding practices. The research type was quantitative. A sample of 120 caregivers and 120 children under the age of five years was selected from six clinics in Greater Tzaneen Municipality using the multi stage sampling method, i.e.: Simple random, quota and convenience sampling and 30 nurses were conveniently selected. Data was collected using two questionnaires for caregivers and another for nurses under the categories demographic data, availability of the chart, the knowledge and infant feeding practices of the caregivers, anthropometric nutritional status as well as the caregivers’ interpretation of the chart. The purpose of the nurses’ questionnaire was to validate the information gathered from the caregivers. The birth weight and length of the children were recorded from the growth chart and the current weight and length/ height were also measured. Results The sample of children consisted more of girls than boys. Caregivers were mainly in the age group 24- 35 years, which made up 46.7{6e6090cdd558c53a8bc18225ef4499fead9160abd3419ad4f137e902b483c465}. Most children were taken care of by their biological mothers who also provided finances for their food and most had secondary education. Half of the nursing staff said all categories of nurses do growth monitoring and promotion and educated caregivers about feeding of children. Contrary to what the nurses said, only 13{6e6090cdd558c53a8bc18225ef4499fead9160abd3419ad4f137e902b483c465} of the caregivers were taught about feeding two to five year-olds. However, 71.7{6e6090cdd558c53a8bc18225ef4499fead9160abd3419ad4f137e902b483c465} were taught about feeding children of three to 24 months but only 23.3{6e6090cdd558c53a8bc18225ef4499fead9160abd3419ad4f137e902b483c465} were taught about exclusive breastfeeding. More than half were taught about the importance of the RTH chart but only a minority was taught about feeding intervention when the growth curve took a normal or abnormal direction. The caregivers also did not know about the frequency of growth monitoring beyond the first year of the child’s life with the lowest knowledge from 25 months up to 60 months. Conclusions The caregivers had growth charts and knew their importance but did not know how to interpret child growth based on the graph and did not know how to nutritionally intervene by looking at the curve and its direction. They were also not taught about growth faltering. The majority of caregivers, as with nurses, did not know the frequency of growth monitoring beyond the child’s first year of life and the cut-off age for growth monitoring.

Keywords: Growth, growth chart, growth monitoring, feeding practices, caregiver

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