INTRODUCTION. The exertion of control during child feeding has been associated with both underweight and overweight during childhood. What is as-yet unclear is whether controlling child feeding practices causally affect child weight or whether the use of control may be a reactive response to concerns about high or low child weight. The aims of this study were to explore the direction of causality in these relationships during infancy.
METHODS. Sixty-two women gave informed consent to take part in this longitudinal study that spanned from birth to 2 years of child age. Mothers completed the Child Feeding Questionnaire at 1 year, and their children were weighed at 1 and 2 years of age. Child weight scores were converted into standardized z scores that accounted for child age and gender.
RESULTS. Controlling for child weight at 1 year, the use of pressure to eat and restriction at 1 year significantly predicted lower child weight at 2 years.
CONCLUSIONS. Controlling feeding practices in infancy have an impact on children's weight at 2 years. The use of restrictive child feeding practices during infancy predicts lower child weight at age 2 years, which may reinforce mothers' use of this strategy in the longer term despite its potential association with disinhibition and greater child weight in later childhood.