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Factors influencing mothers' decisions on whether to provide seafood during early years’ feeding: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Sharon A. Carstairs, Leone C. A. Craig, Debbi Marais, Kirsty Kiezebrink

School/Research organisations


The first year of a child's life is a key period of transition from an exclusive milk diet to solid foods to meet growing nutritional demands. An increased requirement for nutrients includes the introduction of protein-rich solid foods, such as seafood, which additionally provides valuable omega-3 fatty acids. However, consumption of seafood is low in the British child population. The aim of this study was to identify maternal perceptions of the factors that can influence the decision on whether to provide seafood during early years' feeding using a multi-method qualitative study design. A total of 26 discussions posted by mothers on parenting websites; Mumknowsbest, Mumsnet and Netmums, accessed July 2013, together with discussions from six focus groups (February–July 2014) in the North East of Scotland were included for thematic qualitative analysis. Discussions on the inclusion of seafood during the early years were centred across four interrelating themes; - food-related attributes, mother-centred aspects, family-centred aspects, and external information sources. Concerns regarding safety and mothers' limited knowledge and skills on seafood were apparent from discussions; however, the practicalities of providing a cost effective family meal were also issues raised by mothers. An understanding of the numerous and sometimes contradictory influences on mothers' decisions to include seafood during early years' period could be used to develop strategies to help increase regular seafood consumption. In particular, ensuring formal information and guidance clearly addresses the safety concerns of mothers and the development of practical education schemes to encourage and teach cooking skills should be considered.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-287
Early online date11 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

    Research areas

  • Seafood, Infant feeding, Early years, Mothers, Concerns, Online forums

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ID: 246755772