Maternal feeding self-efficacy and fruit and vegetable intakes in infants. Results from the SAIDI study

Gloria A Koh, Jane A Scott, Richard J Woodman, Susan W Kim, Lynne A Daniels, Anthea M Magarey
Appetite 2014, 81: 44-51
Adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables (FV) is a characteristic of a healthy diet but remains a challenge in nutrition interventions. This cross-sectional study explored the multi-directional relationships between maternal feeding self-efficacy, parenting confidence, child feeding behaviour, exposure to new food and FV intake in a cohort of 277 infants. Mothers with healthy infants weighing ≥2500 g and ≥37 weeks gestation were recruited post-natally from 11 South Australian hospitals. Socio-demographic data were collected at recruitment. At 6 months postnatal, infants were weighed and measured, and mothers completed a questionnaire exploring their perceptions of child feeding behaviour and child exposure to new foods. The questionnaire also included the Short Temperament Scale for Infants, Kessler 10 to measure maternal psychological distress and 5 items measuring maternal feeding self-efficacy. The number of occasions and variety of FV (number of subgroups within food groups) consumed by infants were estimated from a 24-hour dietary recall and 2 days food record. Structural equation modelling was performed using Mplus version 6.11. Median (IQR) variety scores were 2 (1-3) for fruit and 3 (2-5) for vegetable intake. The most popular FV consumed were apple (n = 108, 45.0%) and pumpkin (n = 143, 56.3%). None of the variables studied predicted the variety of child fruit intake. Parenting confidence, exposure to new foods and child feeding behaviour were indirectly related to child vegetable intake through maternal feeding self-efficacy while total number of children negatively predicted child vegetable variety (p < 0.05). This highlights the need for addressing antecedents of maternal feeding self-efficacy and the family eating environment as key strategies towards development of healthy eating in children.

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