The goal of this study was to determine if a responsive stimulation and feeding intervention improved developmental and nutritional outcomes compared with a regular information-based parenting program. The hypothesis was that mothers in the intervention would exhibit better parenting skills and children would exhibit better developmental and nutritional outcomes than controls.
A cluster-randomized field trial was conducted with 302 children aged 8 to 20 months and their mothers in rural Bangladesh who were randomly assigned according to village to 1 of 3 groups. The control mothers received 12 informational sessions on health and nutrition. The intervention groups received an additional 6 sessions delivered by peer educators who included modeling and coached practice in self-feeding and verbal responsiveness with the child during play. A second intervention group received, along with the sessions, 6 months of a food powder fortified with minerals and vitamins. Developmental outcomes included the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME) Inventory, mother-child responsive talk, and language development. Nutritional outcomes included weight, height, self-feeding, and mouthfuls eaten. We used analysis of covariance to compare the 3 groups at the posttest and at follow-up, covarying the pretest levels and confounders.
At follow-up, responsive stimulation-feeding groups had better HOME inventory scores, responsive talking, language, mouthfuls eaten, and hand-washing. Micronutrient fortification resulted in more weight gain.
A brief behavior-change program that focused on modeling and practice in stimulation and feeding was found to benefit children's nutrition and language development. Micronutrients benefited children's weight but not length.