What Influences Urban Mothers' Decisions on What to Feed Their Children Aged Under Five-The Case of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Mothers carry the prime responsibility for childcare and feeding in low-income countries. Understanding their experiences in providing food for their children is paramount to informing efforts to improve the nutritional status of children. Such information is lacking in Sub-Saharan Africa. To understand what influences urban mothers' food acquisition and their motivations for selecting food for their children, 36 in-depth interviews were carried out with mothers having children under five years of age. Interviews were conducted in the local language, audio-recorded, transcribed, and translated into English. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis which led to the identification of four major themes: mothers give-in to a child-driven diet; quick-fix versus the privilege of planning; keen awareness on food safety, nutrition, and diet diversity; and social, familial, and cultural influences. The findings indicate that child feeding practices are influenced by interlinked social and environmental factors. Hence, nutrition education campaigns should focus on targeting not only families but also their children. Attention should also be given to food safety regulations, as well as to the much-needed support of mothers who are struggling to ensure their children's survival in low-income countries.


  • Hanna Y Berhane
  • Eva-Charlotte Ekström
  • Magnus Jirström
  • Yemane Berhane
  • Christopher Turner
  • Beatrix W Alsanius
  • Jill Trenholm
External organisations
  • Addis Continental Institute of Public Health
  • Uppsala University
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Human Geography
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • urban mothers, child feeding/nutrition, qualitative methods, Ethiopia
Original languageEnglish
Article number1142
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 22
Publication categoryResearch