A study in USA has looked at the infant feeding attitudes and practices of African-American mothers and of other carers highly involved in feeding babies and toddlers.
Because of the significant variations between caregivers that the study found – and, therefore, the possibility of disagreement between them – the authors recommend that all involved parents and caregivers should be included in infant feeding education.
Fathers were more likely than mothers to use food to soothe a child who is crying, allow convenience food to keep the child happy and allow more TV while eating. On the other hand, the fathers in this study were more likely to be restrictive about the amount of food the child eats and less likely to be tolerant of snacking.
The grandparents (almost always grandmothers) tended to allow less TV while the child is eating and were less likely to allow sweets.
The professional day care providers tended to allow less convenience food, to be more attentive to the child’s cues regarding eating, to allow fewer snacks and to allow less TV while the child is eating.
A carer who is obese is more likely to allow TV while eating and to allow unlimited sweets.
The study is based on interviews with mothers and with 108 other carers identified by them as highly involved, that is responsible for half or more of feeding times during the day. There were 42 grandparents, 21 fathers, 26 daycare providers and 19 others. Data was taken from the Infant Care, Feeding and Risk of Obesity Project in North Carolina in USA (2003-2007). Interviews took place five times between the child’s age of three and 18 months.
Barrett KJ, Wasser HM, Thompson AL & Bentley ME (2018), Contributions of nonmaternal caregivers to infant feeding in a low-income African-American sample, Maternal Child Nutrition
Photo: cheriejoyful. Creative Commons.