Introduction Effective stimulation and responsive caregiving during the first 2 years is crucial for children’s development. By age 3–4 years, over 40% of children in sub-Saharan Africa fail to meet basic cognitive or socioemotional milestones, but there are limited data on parenting and childcare practices. This study, conducted to inform the design of a mass media intervention, explored practices, perceptions, motivators and obstacles to childhood development-related practices among parents and caregivers of children aged 0–2 years in rural Burkina Faso.
Methods We performed two rounds of six focus groups with 41 informants in two villages, using an adapted version of the Trials of Improved Practices methodology. These first explored beliefs and practices, then introduced participants to the principles and benefits of early childhood development (ECD) and provided illustrative examples of three practices (interactive ways of talking, playing and praising) to try with their children. One week later, further discussions explored participants’ experiences and reactions. Data were analysed inductively using thematic content analysis.
Results Existing activities with young children were predominantly instructive with limited responsive interaction and stimulation. Participants were receptive to the practices introduced, noted positive changes in their children when they adopted these practices and found engagement with children personally rewarding.
Conclusion Interactive, stimulating activities with young children did not appear to be widespread in the study area, but caregivers were receptive to information about the importance of early stimulation for children’s development. ECD messages should be tailored to the local sociocultural context and consider time limitations.
- early childhood development
- fathers, grandmothers
- Burkina Faso
- qualitative research
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Handling editor Stephanie M Topp
Contributors JH, TS and ZH conceived the project. JH and TS designed the methodology and draft focus group guides, and MD refined them. CK, SK, PSL and KHL carried out the focus groups and MD, MB and SK carried out the data analysis with input from the other researchers involved. Focus groups and analysis were supervised by MD. JH drafted the manuscript introduction and discussion and MD drafted the methods and results, with input on all sections from TS and ZH. All authors provided input to the interpretation of findings and approved the final version of the manuscript.
Funding The study was funded by Dubai Cares.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval This study received ethical approval from the Ethical Committee for Health Research in the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health in September 2017 (reference number 2017-9-134).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement Data sharing requests should be addressed to the corresponding author.