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The association of breastfeeding duration with later maternal feeding styles in infancy and toddlerhood: a cross-sectional analysis

Katherine Isselmann DiSantis1*, Eric A Hodges2 and Jennifer Orlet Fisher3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community & Global Public Health, Arcadia University, College of Health Sciences, 450 S. Easton Road, 219 Brubaker Hall, Glenside, PA, 19038-3295, USA

2 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Nursing, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

3 Department of Public Health, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Philadelphia, PA, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:53  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-53

Published: 26 April 2013



Breastfeeding modestly reduces obesity risk, yet the mechanisms are not well understood. The goal of the current research was to evaluate the association of breastfeeding duration with a wide range of maternal feeding approaches in late infancy and toddlerhood.


A secondary analysis of cross-sectional data from an ethnically-diverse sample of 154 mothers of infants (aged 7ā€“11 months) and toddlers (aged 12ā€“24 months) was performed. Breastfeeding history was self-reported where 75% of mothers had weaned by the time of the interview. Multiple dimensions of maternal feeding approaches were measured using the Infant Feeding Styles Questionnaire which assesses pressuring, restriction, responsive, laissez-faire, and indulgent approaches to feeding. Analyses were performed separately for infants and toddlers and adjusted for maternal education level, ethnicity, and marital status.


Mothers of infants who breastfed for longer durations tended to report greater responsiveness to infant satiety cues (pā‰¤0.01) and reduced pressuring in feeding complementary foods (p<0.05). Mothers of toddlers who breastfed for longer durations tended to report reduced pressuring in feeding complementary foods (p<0.01).


These results suggest that breastfeeding may shape maternal feeding approaches related to responsiveness to infant cues as infants enter a period of complementary feeding, even after considering a range of demographic characteristics previously associated with breastfeeding behaviors. That responsiveness to feeding cues was not associated with breastfeeding duration in the toddler sample suggests that some aspects of this association might be isolated to infancy.

Breastfeeding; Satiety response; Feeding behaviors; Feeding responsiveness