Bidirectional associations between mothers’ feeding practices and child eating behaviours Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:This study examined bidirectional relationships between maternal feeding practices and child food responsiveness and satiety responsiveness from 2 to 5 years. METHODS:Mothers (N = 207) reported their own feeding practices and child eating behaviours using validated questionnaires at child ages 2, 3.7, and 5 years. Cross-lagged analyses were conducted to test for bidirectional effects, adjusting for child BMI z-score (based on measured weight and height) at 14 months. RESULTS:Eating behaviours and feeding practices showed strong continuity across the three time points. Maternal feeding practices (higher reward for behaviour [β = 0.12, p = 0.025] and lower covert restriction [β = -0.14, p = 0.008]) were prospectively associated with higher food responsiveness. Conversely, increased child satiety responsiveness was primarily prospectively associated with mothers' feeding practices (increased structured meal timing [β = 0.11, p = 0.038], overt [β = 0.14, p = 0.010] and covert restriction [β = 0.11, p = 0.022]). The only exception was family meal setting, which was prospectively negatively associated with satiety responsiveness (β = -0.11, p = 0.035). CONCLUSION:While maternal feeding practices and child satiety and food responsiveness show strong continuity between child age 2 and 5 years, maternal feeding practices appear to be associated with child food responsiveness over time. Conversely, child satiety responsiveness, but not food responsiveness, may also be associated with maternal feeding practices over time. These results are consistent with interventions that provide feeding advice to parents on how to respond appropriately to individual child eating behaviour phenotype. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ACTRN12608000056392 . Registered 29 January 2008.


  • Jansen, Elena
  • Williams, Kate E
  • Mallan, Kimberley M
  • Nicholson, Jan M
  • Daniels, Lynne A

publication date

  • 2018