Recent recommendations and prevention programs have focused on the promotion of responsive feeding during infancy, but more research is needed to understand best practices for fostering responsive feeding during early life. The objective of this systematic review was to synthesize the accumulating bodies of evidence aimed at understanding associations between mothers' feeding experiences and responsive feeding in an attempt to clarify the nature of associations between feeding mode and responsive feeding. A literature search was conducted between January and October 2016; articles were collected from PsychINFO, Medline, and CINAHL, as well as from references in published research and reviews. Article inclusion criteria were as follows: 1) empirical research, 2) included a measure of infant feeding, 3) included a measure of maternal responsiveness, 4) study conducted in human participants, 5) available in English, and 6) study conducted in a developed and/or high-income country. Forty-three studies were identified. Cross-sectional observational studies consistently reported greater responsiveness among breastfeeding mothers than among formula-/bottle-feeding mothers. In addition, longitudinal studies showed that longer breastfeeding durations predicted lower use of nonresponsive feeding practices during later childhood, and some, but not all, found that breastfeeding mothers showed greater increases in responsiveness across infancy than did formula-/bottle-feeding mothers. However, a limited number of longitudinal studies also reported that greater responsiveness during early infancy predicted longer breastfeeding durations. A common limitation among these studies is the correlational nature of their designs and lack of prenatal measures of maternal responsiveness, which hinders our understanding of causal mechanisms. Although 2 randomized clinical trials aimed at promoting maternal responsiveness did not find effects of the intervention on breastfeeding outcomes, these findings were limited by the way in which breastfeeding outcomes were assessed. In sum, although there is consistent evidence for an association between breastfeeding and responsive feeding, more research is needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying this association.


Kinesiology | Public Health

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URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/kine_fac/157