Feeding a fussy eater: Examining longitudinal bidirectional relationships between child fussy eating and maternal feeding practices

Kimberley M. Mallan*, Elena Jansen, Holly Harris, Clare Llewellyn, Alison Fildes, Lynne A. Daniels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective Child fussy eating has been associated with a range of maternal feeding practices; however, whether effects are parent-driven, child-driven, or bidirectional (i.e., both) remains unclear. This study tested for bidirectional relationships between nonresponsive and structure-related maternal feeding practices and child fussy eating at age 2, 3.7, and 5 years using a cross-lagged model approach. Methods First-time Australian mothers (N ¼ 207) reported four nonresponsive and four structure-related feeding practices and child food fussiness (FF) using validated questionnaires at child age 2, 3.7, and 5 years. Bivariate cross-lagged analyses were conducted for each of the eight feeding practices separately. Results Both child- and parent-driven associations were observed. Higher FF at 3.7 years predicted higher nonresponsive feeding practices and less structure-related practices at 5 years. Higher structure-related practices at 2 and 3.7 years predicted lower FF at 3.7 and 5 years, respectively. Use of food as a reward for behavior at 3.7 years predicted higher FF at 5 years. Conclusions Both parent- and child-driven associations explain the relationship between fussy eating and feeding practices. Given that early fussy eating is associated with more nonresponsive feeding, providing parents with anticipatory guidance to manage fussy eating behavior in infants and toddlers may help to avoid the use of these practices. Furthermore, the use of structure-related feeding practices and avoiding the use of food rewards may help to prevent the development of fussy eating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1138-1146
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Volume43
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
NOURISH was funded 2008–2014 by two consecutive grants from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (grant numbers 426704 and 1021065). Additional funding was provided by HJ Heinz (postdoctoral fellowship K.M.), Meat and Livestock Australia, Department of Health South Australia, and Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Queensland University of Technology.

Funding Information:
NOURISH was funded 2008-2014 by two consecutive grants from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (grant numbers 426704 and 1021065). Additional funding was provided by HJ Heinz (postdoctoral fellowship K.M.), Meat and Livestock Australia, Department of Health South Australia, and Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Queensland University of Technology.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Pediatric Psychology.

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