Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Food Science and Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


Peggy Papathakis


Title: Dialogue education is effective as a method to teach maternal toddler feeding practices

Objectives: 1) Measure the effectiveness of one or two workshops using dialogue education to teach healthy toddler feeding practices, specifically a) to allow child self-regulation of satiety, b) to maintain a schedule for meals and snacks and c) to role-model healthy eating when compared to a control group. 2) Measure the effectiveness of dialogue education to teach appropriate stages of growth in order to increase mothers’ ability to know when their children are at a healthy weight compared to a control group

3)Compare baseline maternal toddler feeding practices between low-income Latina mothers participating in Early Head Start (EHS) and Early Migrant/Seasonal Head Start (EMSHS).

Methods: Sixty six mothers participating in EHS (n=25 and EMSHS (n=41) completed a 24 item Likert scale (1 to 5 with 1=Never/Not confident/Extremely unlikely, 5=Always/Very confident/Extremely likely) to assess behavior, self-efficacy and intent regarding 3 domains of toddler feeding practice: self-regulation of hunger and satiety, scheduling meals and snacks, and parental role modeling. Mean Likert scores for each question were analyzed by subgroup. A two-part educational intervention was developed to improve these three domains of healthy toddler feeding practices and knowledge of stages of growth. Participants were recruited primarily from EMSHS and were grouped based on level of participation (1 workshop, 2 workshops or control).


Objective one:One-way ANOVA analysis showed improvement from baseline to post-intervention for self-regulation (baseline x=3.130 0.499; post-intervention x=3.496 0.603; p=0.030) and role-modeling behavior (baseline x=3.757 ; post-intervention x=4.096 0.581, n=23, p=0.035) for those who participated in one or two workshops. Two-sample t-tests of post-intervention scores between control and a combined intervention group (Group 1 and Group 2) showed that the combined group scored significantly higher in allowing self-regulation behavior (control x=3.036 , n=11; combined intervention group x=3.496 0.603, n=23, p=0.016). Regression showed that intent (p=0.03) and self-efficacy (p

Objective two: No significant changes in self-efficacy or knowledge of stages of growth were observed among the three treatment groups. Perceptions of healthy weight did not change significantly from baseline to post-intervention.

Objective three: Mothers in EHS and EMSHS groups were similar for the most part in their parental feeding practices. The EMSHS mothers maintained a schedule for meals and snacks more than EHS mothers (EMSHS x=3.323 , n=41, EHS x=2.850 , n=25; p=0.004). The EHS mothers, however, limited sweets more frequently than EMSHS mothers (EMSHS x=3.28 , n=41, EHS x=2.66 , n=25; p=0.024). Levels of self-efficacy and intent were similar for both groups, with EHS mothers scoring higher for confidence in staying calm during stressful meal times (EHS x=3.24 , n=25; EMSHS x=2.56 , n=41; p-value=0.004) and intent to allow self-regulation (EHS x=4.125 , n=8; EMSHS x=3.532 , n=25; p-value=0.068). Early Head Start mothers also identified the importance of exercise in maintaining a healthy weight significantly more than EMSHS mothers (p=0.031).


Dialogue education is effective as a method to improve some aspects of authoritative feeding behavior. One workshop was sufficient to observe improvements in self-regulation and role-modeling behavior. No improvements were observed in self-efficacy or knowledge of healthy weights. While similar for the most part, EHS mothers are more authoritative in their feeding practices compared to EMSHS.

Keywords: Toddlers, Head Start, Division of Responsibility, Dialogue Education