Learning to overeat in infancy: Concurrent and prospective relationships between maternal BMI, feeding practices and child eating response among Hispanic mothers and children

Pediatr Obes. 2021 Jun;16(6):e12756. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12756. Epub 2020 Nov 23.


Background: Parents play a key role in shaping children's eating behaviours and self-regulation. There is limited data on how maternal weight influences feeding practices in the first year of life.

Objective: To examine the relationships between maternal BMI, feeding practices and infant eating behaviours related to self-regulation.

Methods: Participants were 160 mother-infant dyads. A longitudinal design was used to examine concurrent and prospective associations between maternal 6-month postpartum BMI, mothers' feeding practices at 6 months (Infant Feeding Practices Questionnaire) and children's eating behaviours at 6 months (Baby Eating Behaviour Questionnaire) and 12 months (Child Eating Behaviour Questionnaire).

Results: Higher maternal BMI was associated positively with mothers' use of restrictive feeding practices (β = 0.036, p = 0.033), and inversely with responsivity to infant satiety cues (Spearman partial r = -0.249, p = 0.002) at 6 months. Mother's restrictive feeding practices were associated with infant food responsiveness (β = 0.157, p = 0.009) and emotional overeating (β = 0.118, p = 0.005) at 12 months. Maternal use of responsive feeding practices was associated with lower infant food responsiveness at 6 months (Spearman partial r = -0.173, p = 0.031) and lower emotional overeating at 12 months (Spearman partial r = -0.183, p = 0.022).

Conclusions: Our findings add to studies suggesting that feeding practices can provide mechanistic pathways in the intergenerational transmission of obesity. Postpartum family-system approaches focusing on maternal health while integrating infant feeding guidance may confer benefits in improving maternal-child health.

Keywords: feeding practices; infant; postpartum weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia
  • Infant
  • Mothers*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires