Food and Behaviour Research

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The Child Feeding Guide: A digital health intervention for reducing controlling child feeding practices and maternal anxiety over time

Haycraft E, Witcomb G, Farrow C (2020) Nutrition Bulletin 2020 DOI: 10.1111/nbu.12445  

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Abstract:

Fussy eating and food refusal are common in young children. These behaviours can contribute to anxiety or concern in parents and caregivers, who have called for credible support to help them navigate the challenges of feeding young children. Given recent increases in technology, and use of the Internet as a trusted source of parenting support, the Child Feeding Guide digital health intervention was created to provide evidenceā€based support to parents and caregivers to help them to feed children and establish healthy eating habits from the early years.

An evaluation was conducted with 25 mothers (with a child aged 6 months to 4 years) who used the Child Feeding Guide website/app over 4 weeks. Mothers provided information about their feeding practices and anxiety levels at baseline, and again 4 weeks later, and answered questions regarding the acceptability and use of the digital support resource. Significant decreases were seen in maternal anxiety and in maternal use of pressure to eat and restriction of food from children for weight reasons.

Mothers reported that the Child Feeding Guide was easy to use, that they valued its credibility and reassurances, and that its content helped them to better understand their child’s eating behaviour. These promising findings suggest that naturalistic use of a digital health intervention could contribute to reductions in mothers’ use of controlling feeding practices and levels of anxiety. Such findings are important for supporting the development of healthy eating habits in young children and are likely to be relevant to health and childcare professionals.

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