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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54229. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054229. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Breastfeeding is associated with a maternal feeding style low in control from birth.

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Department of Public Health and Policy Studies, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom.



The influence of maternal child-feeding style upon child weight and eating style for children over the age of twelve months is well established. However there is little empirical evidence examining maternal child-feeding style during milk feeding despite evidence that mothers who breastfeed exert lower levels of control over later diet. The aim of this paper was to examine variation in maternal child-feeding style during the first six months postpartum and to explore associations with mode of milk feeding and infant weight.


The Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ) is frequently used to measure maternal child-feeding style in preschool children. 390 mothers with an infant aged 0-6 months completed an adapted version of the CFQ to measure maternal child-feeding style during milk feeding. Participants reported breastfeeding duration, infant weight and perceived size.


Principle components analysis of questionnaire items produced six factors; encouraging feeding, feeding to a routine, limiting intake, concern for weight, monitoring and perceived responsibility. Breastfeeding was associated with lower levels of control compared to formula feeding. Infant birth weight was significantly inversely associated with concern for weight, monitoring and encouraging feeding.


Formula feeding is associated with greater maternal control of child-feeding from birth whilst a lower birth weight is linked to concerns for infant weight and pressure to eat. As early maternal child-feeding relationships may impact negatively upon longer term child weight and eating style, identifying variations in maternal feeding style and understanding the factors that influence this is pertinent.

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