Skip to main content


Allotey, Diana; Flax, Valerie L.; Ipadeola, Abiodun; Kwasu, Sarah; Bentley, Margaret E.; Worku, Beamlak; Kalluru, Keerti; Valle, Carmina G.; Bose, Sujata; & Martin, Stephanie L. (2022). Maternal and Paternal Involvement in Complementary Feeding in Kaduna State, Nigeria: The Continuum of Gender Roles in Urban and Rural Settings. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 18(2), e13325. PMCID: PMC8932823


Household gender roles influence infant and young child feeding behaviours and may contribute to suboptimal complementary feeding practices through inequitable household decision-making, intra-household food allocation and limited paternal support for resources and caregiving. In Igabi local government area of Kaduna State, Nigeria, the Alive & Thrive (A&T) initiative implemented an intervention to improve complementary feeding practices through father engagement. This study describes household gender roles among A&T participants and how they influence maternal and paternal involvement in complementary feeding. We conducted 16 focus group discussions with mothers and fathers of children aged 6-23 months in urban and rural administrative wards and analysed them using qualitative thematic analysis methods. Most mothers and fathers have traditional roles with fathers as 'providers' and 'supervisors' and mothers as 'caregivers'. Traditional normative roles of fathers limit their involvement in 'hands-on' activities, which support feeding and caring for children. Less traditional normative roles, whereby some mothers contributed to the provision of resources and some fathers contributed to caregiving, were also described by some participants and were more salient in the urban wards. In the rural wards, more fathers expressed resistance to fathers playing less traditional roles. Fathers who participated in caregiving tasks reported respect from their children, strong family relationships and had healthy home environments. Our research findings point to the need for more context-specific approaches that address prevalent gender normative roles in complementary feeding in a variety of settings.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Maternal & Child Nutrition


Allotey, Diana
Flax, Valerie L.
Ipadeola, Abiodun
Kwasu, Sarah
Bentley, Margaret E.
Worku, Beamlak
Kalluru, Keerti
Valle, Carmina G.
Bose, Sujata
Martin, Stephanie L.

Article Type




Data Set/Study

Alive & Thrive (A&T) Initiative




Bentley - 0000-0002-1220-0208