Background. Prelacteal feed (feeding any other substance before first breastfeeding) appears to be common despite its harmful effects. By definition a child provided with prelacteal feed (PLF) is not exclusively breastfed and PLF has many implications for the success and early initiation of breastfeeding. Objectives. To describe the prevalence of, nature of, and reasons for and factors associated with PLF. Methods. 647 mother-infant dyads were studied. Data was collected about the sociodemographic features of the family and baby, maternity care, the type of first feed before suckling, and causes of PLF. Maternal weight and height were measured and body mass index was calculated. Results. About 58% of newborns received prelacteal feeds. The commonest PLF was sugar/glucose water (39.6%). The most frequent reasons for giving PLF are tradition (61.0%) and mother’s/mother in law’s advice (58.3%). The logistic regression revealed that the independent predictors of PLF are urban residence; maternal education; father’s education; low, middle, and high social class; maternal obesity; receiving antenatal care at private clinics and no antenatal care; Caesarean section; female babies; low birth weight; and admission to neonatal intensive care. Conclusion. Indiscriminate use of PLF should be discouraged in medical education and in antenatal maternal health education.