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The Influence of Maternal Psychosocial Characteristics on Infant Feeding Styles


Barrett, Katherine J.; Thompson, Amanda L.; & Bentley, Margaret E. (2016). The Influence of Maternal Psychosocial Characteristics on Infant Feeding Styles. Appetite, 103, 396-402. PMCID: PMC5461822


Maternal feeding styles in infancy and early childhood are associated with children's later risk for overweight and obesity. Maternal psychosocial factors that influence feeding styles during the complementary feeding period, the time during which infants transition from a milk-based diet to one that includes solid foods and other non-milk products, have received less attention. The present study explores how maternal psychosocial factors-specifically self-esteem, parenting self-efficacy, parenting satisfaction, and depression symptoms-influence mothers' infant feeding styles at nine months of age, a time during which solid foods eating habits are being established. Participants included 160 low-income, African-American mother-infant pairs in central North Carolina who were enrolled in the Infant Care and Risk of Obesity Study. Regression models tested for associations between maternal psychosocial characteristics and pressuring and restrictive feeding styles. Models were first adjusted for maternal age, education, marital status and obesity status. To account for infant characteristics, models were then adjusted for infant weight-for-length, distress to limitations and activity level scores. Maternal self-esteem was negatively associated with pressuring to soothe. Maternal parenting self-efficacy was positively associated with restriction-diet quality. Maternal parenting satisfaction and depression symptoms were not associated with feeding styles in the final models. Focusing on strengthening maternal self-esteem and parenting self-efficacy may help to prevent the development of less desirable infant feeding styles.


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Journal Article

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Barrett, Katherine J.
Thompson, Amanda L.
Bentley, Margaret E.