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Appetite. 2015 Aug;91:385-92. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.04.078. Epub 2015 May 4.

Mindless feeding: Is maternal distraction during bottle-feeding associated with overfeeding?

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Department of Nutrition Sciences, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, 1505 Race Street, Mail Stop 1030, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA.
Department of Kinesiology, College of Math and Sciences, California Polytechnic University, One Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA. Electronic address:


Mindless eating, or eating while distracted by surrounding stimuli, leads to overeating. The present study explored whether "mindless feeding," or maternal distraction during bottle-feeding, is associated with greater infant formula/milk intakes and lower maternal sensitivity to infant cues. Mothers and their ≤24-week-old bottle-feeding infants (N = 28) visited our laboratory for a video-recorded feeding observation. Infant intake was assessed by weighing bottles before and after the feedings. Maternal sensitivity to infant cues was objectively assessed by behavioral coding of video-records using the Nursing Child Assessment Feeding Scale. Maternal distraction was defined as looking away from the infant >75% of the feeding; using a mobile device; conversing with another adult; or sleeping. Twenty-nine percent (n = 8) of mothers were distracted. While differences in intakes for infants of distracted vs. not distracted mothers did not reach significance (p = 0.24), the association between distraction and infant intake was modified by two dimensions of temperament: orienting/regulation capacity (p = 0.03) and surgency/extraversion (p = 0.04). For infants with low orienting/regulation capacity, infants of distracted mothers consumed more (177.1 ± 33.8 ml) than those of not distracted mothers (92.4 ± 13.8 ml). Similar findings were noted for infants with low surgency/extraversion (distracted: 140.6 ± 22.5 ml; not distracted: 78.4 ± 14.3 ml). No association between distraction and intake was seen for infants with high orienting/regulation capacity or surgency/extraversion. A significantly greater proportion of distracted mothers showed low sensitivity to infant cues compared to not distracted mothers (p = 0.04). In sum, mindless feeding may interact with infant characteristics to influence feeding outcomes; further experimental and longitudinal studies are needed.



Bottle-feeding; Mindless eating; Mindless feeding; Mother-infant feeding interactions; Obesity prevention; Overfeeding

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