Breastfeeding Knowledge and Practices in New Delhi, India

  • Priya Shankar Fogarty NIH Fellowship in Global Health, Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, New Delhi, India.
  • Stephen R Kodish Pennsylvania State University, Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development, United States.
  • Farah Meraj Khanam WHO Collaborating Centre for Adolescent Health, Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, New Delhi, India.
  • Sheila Isanaka Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, United States.
Keywords: Breastfeeding, Maternal, Child Health, Nutrition, South Asia


Introduction: Appropriate breastfeeding practices are important for decreasing low birthweight and infant mortality. Despite significant media and community efforts by various organisations, India continues to have sub-optimal rates of breastfeeding.
Research Aim: This study aimed at describing breastfeeding knowledge and practices in a low-income urban community of Dabri village, New Delhi.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted between December 2013 and January 2014 among 157 mothers with children aged 0 through 5 years of age receiving paediatric care at the Dabri Women and Children’s Government Hospital. The participants were asked 21 semi-structured questions to understand breastfeeding knowledge and practices during the first six months of their child’s life.
Results: While awareness and uptake of exclusive breastfeeding in Dabri, New Delhi was high (72.6%), mothers exhibited variability whether feeding their child on-demand or with a routine as well as in terms of duration. Less than half (49.6%) of women breastfed in the first hour of their delivery, with delays in initiation of breastfeeding associated with C-sections and lower educational attainment. Nearly 17% of women reported introducing solid foods or liquids into their child’s diet prior to 6 months of age. Principal channels through which breastfeeding information was received included their mother/ family member (38.9%), doctor (35.0%), as well as television and online media (19%).
Conclusion: Future campaigns to promote breastfeeding should build knowledge of health workers, utilise media-based campaigns, help mothers overcome key barriers to best breastfeeding practices, and introduce tools to support greater maternal self-efficacy for improved practices.

How to cite this article:
Shankar P, Kodish SR, Khanam FM, Isanaka S. Breastfeeding Knowledge and Practices in New Delhi, India. Postgrad J Pediatr Adol Med. 2022;1(1):6-15.


Victora CG, Bahl R, Barros AJ, França GV, Horton S, Krasevec J, Murch S, Sankar MJ, Walker N, Rollins NC; Lancet Breastfeeding Series Group. Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. Lancet. 2016;387(10017):475-90. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Jain K, Dudeja S, Suri V, Kumar P. Improving first-hour breastfeeding initiation rate after cesarean deliveries: a quality improvement study. Indian Pediatrics; 2018.

Koya S, Babu GR, Deepa R, Iyer V, Yamuna A, Lobo E, Prafulla S, Kinra S, Murthy GV. Determinants of breastfeeding practices and its association with infant anthropometry: results from a prospective cohort study in South India. Front Public Health. 2020;8:492596. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Arnold F, Parasuraman S, Arokiasamy P, Kothari M. National Family Health Survey (Nfhs-3) India 2005-06 Nutrition in India. Mumbai: International Institute for Population Sciences; 2009. 1422 p.

Gupta A, Holla R, Dadhich JP, Suri S, Trejos M, Chanetsa J. The status of policy and programmes on infant and young child feeding in 40 countries. Health Policy Plan. 2013;28(3):279-98. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Subbiah N. A study to assess the knowledge, attitude, practice and problems of postnatal mothers regarding breastfeeding. Nurs J India. 2003;94(8):177-9. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Rollins NC, Bhandari N, Hajeebhoy N, Horton S, Lutter CK, Martines JC, Piwoz EG, Richter LM, Victora CG; Lancet Breastfeeding Series Group. Why invest, and what it will take to improve breastfeeding practices? Lancet. 2016;387(10017):491-504. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Tiwari V, Singh A. Knowledge, attitude and practice regarding breastfeeding in an urban area of Fazidabad district (UP). Indian J Prev Social Med. 2007;38(1&2):18-22.

Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India [Internet]. About BPNI. 2005-2021; 2021 [cited 2021 Jan 22]. Available from:

StataCorp. Software Reviews. Eco J. 1992;102(415):1581-6.

UNICEF. Global strategy for infant and young child feeding. World Health Organization; 2003. [Google Scholar]

Ekambaram M, Bhat VB, Ahamed MA. Knowledge, attitude and practice of breastfeeding among postnatal mothers. Curr Ped Res. 2010;14(2):119-24. [Google Scholar]

Vikram K, Vanneman R, Desai S. Linkages between maternal education and childhood immunization in India. Soc Sci Med. 2012;75(2):331-9. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Baker DP, Leon J, Greenaway EG, Collins J, Movit M. The education effect on population health: a reassessment. Popul Dev Rev. 2011;37(2): 307-32. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Pandey D, Sardana P, Saxena A, Dogra L, Coondoo A, Kamath A. Awareness and attitude towards breastfeeding among two generations of Indian women: a comparative study. PLoS One. 2015;10(5). [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI); International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). The “4 in 1†Training Programme. 2015.

McDivitt JA, Zimicki S, Hornik R, Abulaban A. The impact of the Healthcom mass media campaign on timely initiation of breastfeeding in Jordan. Stud Fam Plann. 1993;24(5):295-309. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Edmond KM, Zandoh C, Quigley MA, Amenga-Etego S, Owusu-Agyei S, Kirkwood BR. Delayed breastfeeding initiation increases risk of neonatal mortality. Pediatrics. 2006;117(3):380-6. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Sandor M, Dalal K. Influencing factors on time of breastfeeding initiation among a national representative sample of women in India. Health. 2013;5(12):2169-80. [Google Scholar]

The physiological basis of breastfeeding. In: Infant and young child feeding: model chapter for textbooks for medical students and allied health professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. [Google Scholar]

Hassan E. Recall bias can be a threat to retrospective and prospective research designs. Internet J Epidem. 2005;3(2).

Fisher RJ. Social desirability bias and the validity of indirect questioning. J Cons Res. 1993;20(2):303-15. [Google Scholar]