Mindless eating, or eating while distracted by surrounding stimuli, leads to overeating. The present study explored whether “mindless feeding,” or maternal distraction during bottle-feeding, is associated with greater infant formula/milk intakes and lower maternal sensitivity to infant cues. Mothers and their ≤24-week-old bottle-feeding infants (N = 28) visited our laboratory for a video-recorded feeding observation. Infant intake was assessed by weighing bottles before and after the feedings. Maternal sensitivity to infant cues was objectively assessed by behavioral coding of video-records using the Nursing Child Assessment Feeding Scale. Maternal distraction was defined as looking away from the infant >75% of the feeding; using a mobile device; conversing with another adult; or sleeping. Twenty-nine percent (n = 8) of mothers were distracted. While differences in intakes for infants of distracted vs. not distracted mothers did not reach significance (p = 0.24), the association between distraction and infant intake was modified by two dimensions of temperament: orienting/regulation capacity (p = 0.03) and surgency/extraversion (p = 0.04). For infants with low orienting/regulation capacity, infants of distracted mothers consumed more (177.1 ± 33.8 ml) than those of not distracted mothers (92.4 ± 13.8 ml). Similar findings were noted for infants with low surgency/extraversion (distracted: 140.6 ± 22.5 ml; not distracted: 78.4 ± 14.3 ml). No association between distraction and intake was seen for infants with high orienting/regulation capacity or surgency/extraversion. A significantly greater proportion of distracted mothers showed low sensitivity to infant cues compared to not distracted mothers (p = 0.04). In sum, mindless feeding may interact with infant characteristics to influence feeding outcomes; further experimental and longitudinal studies are needed.


Kinesiology | Public Health

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URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/kine_fac/155