Association between parental feeding practices and shared family meals. The Food4toddlers study
Background: Parental feeding practices and family meals are important determinants for infants’ diet and health. Still, there is no previous research of the association between feeding practices and family meals in infants.
Objective: Explore potential associations between feeding practices and family meals among infants.
Design: We present cross-sectional results (baseline) from the Food4toddlers study. In total 298 parents of 1-year-olds, recruited from all over Norway, filled in a questionnaire regarding frequency of shared family meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and feeding practices using the validated instrument Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionnaire. Logistic regression was used to explore the associations between having family meals every day and feeding practices (10 dimensions).
Results: The children included were about 11 months old, and 55% were boys. Parents were highly educated. Most children had family breakfast and dinner (60–65%), while fewer had family lunch every day (35%). We found that eating family breakfast and lunch every day was associated with use of the positive feeding practices: encourage balance and variety, environment and modelling (ORs ranging from 1.15 to 1.37), while eating family breakfast and family lunch less often was associated with the negative feeding practice pressure to eat (OR, 95% CI: 0.90 (0.83, 0.96) and 0.91 (0.84, 0.97), respectively). Eating family dinner every day was associated with more use of the positive feeding practice balance and variety (OR, 95% CI: 1.21 (1.06, 1.38), while having family dinner less often was associated with use of the negative feeding practices pressure to eat and restriction to health (OR, 95% CI: 0.89 (0.83, 0.96) and 0.94 (0.87, 1.01), respectively).
Discussion and conclusion: In this group of infants, having family meals every day was associated with positive feeding practices, while having family meals less often was associated with negative feeding practices. Shared family meals provide an important setting for healthy eating, development of feeding skills and dietary habits formation.
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