Parental control over feeding in infancy. Influence of infant weight, appetite and feeding method.Appetite 2015; 91:101-6A
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE
Parental control over feeding has been linked to child overweight. Parental control behaviours have been assumed to be exogenous to the child, but emerging evidence suggests they are also child-responsive. This study tests the hypothesis that parental control in early infancy is responsive to infant appetite and weight.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS
Participants were 1920 mothers from the Gemini twin cohort, using one randomly selected child per family. Data come from questionnaires completed when the children were approximately 8 months. Mothers completed measures of 'pressure' and 'restriction', reported feeding method (breast- and bottle feeding), rated their infant's appetite during the first 3 months, provided health professional recorded weight measurements, and reported their concerns about their infant's weight. Logistic regression examined predictors of 'pressure' and 'restriction', adjusting for maternal demographics and BMI. Interactions between feeding method and control were also tested.
'Pressure' was associated with lower birth weight (OR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.65-0.97), greater concern about underweight (OR = 1.88, 1.29-2.75), and lower infant appetite (OR = 0.59, 0.47-0.75). 'Restriction' was associated with higher appetite (OR = 1.44, 1.09-1.89) and bottle feeding (OR = 2.86, 2.18-3.75). A significant interaction with feeding method indicated that infants with high appetites were more likely to be restricted only if they were bottle-fed (OR = 1.52, 1.13-2.04).
Mothers vary in their levels of control over milk-feeding and this is partly responsive to the infant's characteristics. They tend to pressure infants who are lighter and have a smaller appetite, and restrict infants with larger appetites if they are bottle-fed. Guidance on infant feeding may be better received if it acknowledges that parents respond to infant characteristics in order to achieve their feeding goals.