OBJECTIVE: To assess time allocation for child care and the nutritional status of children aged 0-2 years. DESIGN: Cross sectional descriptive survey using a structured questionnaire and taking of anthropometric measurements to determine the nutritional status of children aged 0 to 2 years. In addition, two day (10 hour) observations were conducted in a subsample of households to assess time allocation for the main child care activities. SETTING: A low-income peri-urban section of Thika town (in Makongeni estate), Kenya. Subjects: A random sample of 150 mothers and their 0-2 year old children. RESULTS: Mother's knowledge about child care influences the amount and type of care that is given to children. Time taken to perform various activities was also found to vary with the mother's education level, her occupation, number of children less than five years in the house and the child's age and birth order. Comparatively, children who were malnourished (stunted) had less time devoted to them for breastfeeding, food preparation and feeding. Although mothers were the primary caregivers, the responsibility of care giving was shared with other household members as well as with neighbours. CONCLUSION: The amount and type of care that a child receives is determined to a large extent by the mother and caregivers knowledge.
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