Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life followed by optimal complementary feeding are critical public health measures for reducing and preventing morbidity and mortality in young children since breastfeeding supports infants’ immune systems and helps protect them from chronic illnesses later in life. However, rate of exclusive breastfeeding practice is very low especially in developing countries. The aim of this study was to evaluate the practice of mothers towards exclusive breastfeeding and identifying determinants of exclusive breastfeeding practice among mothers with index infant to six months. A community based cross sectional study design was carried out from august to September, 2017. Face to face interview was conducted using pretested and structured questioner to collect data from mothers of index infant from 0 to 6 months of age. Forty five key informants were selected purposively from range of backgrounds for in-depth interview on exclusive breastfeeding knowledge, perceptions and practices. The data was entered to Epi-data version 3.1 and exported to Statistical Packages for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21.0 for analysis. A total of 591 respondents participated in the survey. Only 88 (14.9%) of infants were exclusively breastfed. The majority 344 (58.2%) of the respondents hadn’t sufficient knowledge about exclusive breastfeeding, and only 222 (37.6%) of participants had positive attitude to exclusive breastfeeding. Initiation of breastfeeding within an hour after delivery was practiced by only a few mothers 194 (32.8%). Prelacteal feeds were given to above half of the infants 314 (53.1%). Sufficient knowledge and positive attitude towards exclusive breastfeeding, antenatal care ≥4 attendance, infant’s age (0-60 days), early initiation of breast feeding, and avoiding traditional prelacteal feeds can significantly raise the odds of exclusive breastfeeding practice.
Keywords: Exclusive breastfeeding, infants’ health, initiation time, mothers, prelacteal feeds, knowledge, attitude and practice.