BACKGROUND:

Evidence suggests an association of breastfeeding with a maternal feeding style (MFS) that is less controlling than formula feeding, which, in turn, may improve a child’s self-regulation of eating. This study examines associations of bottle-feeding practices during infancy with MFS and children’s eating behavior (CEB) at 6 years old.

METHODS:

We linked data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II to the Year 6 Follow-Up, which include 8 MFS and CEB measures adapted from previous validated instruments. Bottle-feeding practices during the first 6 months estimated by using the Infant Feeding Practices Study II were bottle-feeding intensity (BFI), mother’s encouragement of infant to finish milk in the bottle, and infant finishing all milk in the bottle. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for associations of bottle-feeding practices with MFS and CEB at 6 years old were calculated by using multivariable logistic regressions controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and other feeding practices (N = 1117).

RESULTS:

Frequent bottle emptying encouraged by mothers during infancy increased odds of mothers encouraging their child to eat all the food on their plate (aOR: 2.37; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.65–3.41] and making sure their child eats enough (aOR: 1.62; 95% CI: 1.14–2.31) and of children eating all the food on their plate at 6 years old (aOR: 2.01; 95% CI: 1.05–3.83). High BFI during early infancy also increased the odds of mothers being especially careful to ensure their 6-year-old eats enough.

CONCLUSIONS:

Bottle-feeding practices during infancy may have long-term effects on MFS and CEB. Frequent bottle emptying encouraged by mothers and/or high BFI during early infancy increased the likelihood of mothers pressuring their 6-year-old child to eat and children’s low satiety responsiveness.

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