The perception of healthy growth and weight may differ between cultures, which could influence feeding practises and consequently affect the development of overweight. The present study examined ethnic variation in maternal perceptions of growth and their influence on feeding practises among Turkish and Dutch infants aged 0–6 months. Data were obtained from the mothers of 143 Turkish and 143 Dutch healthy, singleton, term infants with birth weights appropriate for gestational age, using structured interviews at 1, 4 and 6 months after birth. Compared with Dutch mothers, mothers of Turkish descent perceived a chubby infant more often as pretty (43 v. 22 %), and were more often worried about their infant's growth (13 v. 4 %). Turkish mothers were more likely to give full breast-feeding (BF) until at least 6 months (adjusted OR (aOR) 2·1, 95 % CI 1·0, 4·3) and to start introducing complementary feeding, including rice flour porridge, at the age of 6 months (aOR 2·4, 95 % CI 1·1, 4·9). Infants of Turkish descent were fed on average one milk feeding more during the day and, if introduced to complementary foods before 6 months, were more often given uncommon types of foods (e.g. yogurt and cookies) (aOR 2·1, 95 % CI 1·1, 4·3). The differences in perceptions affected differences in feeding practises only to a small extent. Preventive advice offered to Turkish mothers in Child Health Care should include discussing choices of complementary foods and frequency of feeding from an early age onwards. In Dutch mothers, support for the continuation of BF remains an important issue.