Weight status and rate of weight gain in the first six months postpartum are strong predictors of later obesity; thus, infant feeding practices are an important target for obesity prevention efforts. The use of food to soothe (FTS) is associated with less-favorable eating habits and weight outcomes for older infants and children. However, few studies have examined correlates of use of FTS during early infancy. The primary aim of this cross-sectional study was to explore associations between use of FTS and infant weight status in the first 6 months postpartum. A secondary aim was to identify the combination of maternal and infant characteristics that predicted use of FTS. Mothers of infants aged 6 months or younger (N = 134) completed questionnaires assessing use of FTS, bottle-feeding intensity (i.e., percentage of daily feedings from bottles versus directly from the breast), levels of responsive and pressuring feeding styles, dimensions of infant temperament and eating behaviors, and family demographics. Dyads were observed during feeding to assess maternal sensitivity to infant cues and responsiveness to infant distress and infant clarity of cues and responsiveness to the mother. Infant weight and length at study entry were assessed by a trained research assistant. Use of FTS was not associated with infant weight for age z-score (WAZ), even when bottle-feeding intensity was considered as a moderator. More frequent use of FTS was predicted by the combination of greater levels of pressuring feeding style (p = .005) and infant temperamental negative affectivity (p = .001), and lower levels of infant temperamental surgency/extraversion (p = .018). In conclusion, use of FTS was associated with dimensions of infant temperament and maternal feeding style, but not with WAZ during early infancy.


Kinesiology | Public Health

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URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/kine_fac/136