Mothers’ instigation of complementary feeding before their infant reaches 6 months old risks shortening their breastfeeding duration, and high morbidity and mortality for their child. Complementary feeding practices require further investigation in Saudi Arabia. The present study aims to evaluate complementary feeding practices, and to establish which factors are associated with the early introduction of complementary feeding in the Saudi Arabian context. Cross-sectional research was conducted with 632 mothers of infants aged between 4 and 24 months attending five primary health care centers (PHCCs) between July and December 2015 in Saudi Arabia. Data on participants’ socio-demographic characteristics and complementary feeding practices were collected via structured questionnaires. A regression analysis identified the factors associated with the early introduction of solid foods, defined as before 17 weeks. 62.5% of the study’s infants received solid foods before reaching 17 weeks old. The maternal factors at higher risk of early introduction of solids were: younger age; Saudi nationality; shorter education; employment within 6 months post-birth; caesareans; not breastfeeding fully for six weeks post-birth, and living in low-income households. Complementary feeding prior to 6 months postpartum was common in Saudi Arabia. Public health interventions are needed to reduce early complementary feeding, focusing on mothers at highest risk of giving solids too early.
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