Predicting timing of introduction to solid food: The contribution of infant temperament and maternal feeding behaviours.
Despite guidance from the World Health Organization and the UK Department of Health, many mothers introduce solid food before their infant is 6 months old. The current study aimed to investigate relationships between maternal feeding behaviours (pre- and post- introduction to solids), infant temperament and the timing of introduction to solid food. Eighty-one women were recruited on low risk maternity units and were contacted at 1 week, 3 and 6 months postpartum. Mothers of infants (45 males, 36 females, mean birth weight 3.52 kg [SD 0.39]) completed the behaviours component of the Infant Feeding Style Questionnaire via telephone interview at 3 months. At 6 months, they were observed feeding their infant solid food at home and reported infant temperament using the Infant Behaviour Questionnaire-Revised (short form). Partial correlations (covariates: birth weight, maternal age, breastfeeding duration and postnatal depression) revealed negative associations between age of introduction to solid food and temperament (smiling and laughter) and laissez-faire milk feeding behaviours; and positive associations between age of introduction to solid food and restrictive milk feeding behaviours and verbal involvement during an observed mealtime. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that an infant’s birth weight and the degree to which their mothers perceive them to smile and laugh are key predictors of when they will be introduced to solid food, over and above other variables of interest (e.g. maternal milk feeding behaviours, breastfeeding duration and postnatal depression).