Infant temperament is associated with maternal feeding behaviors in early infancy

Academic Article

Abstract

  • Parental feeding practices shape infant eating behaviors and may impact obesity risk. For example, feeding on a schedule and using food to soothe have been associated with greater infant weight gain and future obesity risk. Most studies focus on parental determinants of feeding practices, but infant temperament might influence feeding practices parents select. Studies examining associations of infant temperament with parental feeding practices in early infancy are needed. Thus, the purpose of this cross-sectional, observational study was to test the hypothesis that infant temperament would be associated with use of food to soothe and feeding on a schedule. Mother-infant dyads (N = 98) from 3 parent birth cohort studies presented for clinic visits at infant age of 3–5 months. Mothers completed a demographic questionnaire. Feeding practices (use of food to soothe and feeding on a schedule) and maternal perceptions of 3 dimensions of infant temperament (surgency, orienting/regulating, and negative affect) were collected by survey. Spearman partial correlations were used to examine if any of the 3 infant temperament dimensions were associated with use of food to soothe or feeding on a schedule, adjusting for maternal marital status, race/ethnicity, BMI, infant age at the visit, and infant weight-for-length z-score. Greater perceived infant surgency/extraversion was associated with greater use of food to calm (Spearman partial r = 0.25, p < 0.05), but not feeding on a schedule (Spearman partial r = −0.11, p = 0.31). Greater perceived infant negative affect was associated with greater use of food to calm (Spearman partial r = 0.21, p < 0.05). Perceived infant orienting/regulating was not associated with either of the feeding practices examined. These results provide evidence that as early as 3–5 months of age, perceived infant temperament is associated with maternal feeding practices which influence infant growth outcomes.
  • Published In

  • Appetite  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Schneider-Worthington CR; Fouts A; Chandler-Laney PC; Bahorski JS
  • Volume

  • 168