Complementary feeding approach and maternal responsiveness in 8- and 12-month-old Italian infants: A longitudinal study

Alice Di Prete, Denise Del Grosso, Valentina Focaroli, Melania Paoletti, Giulia Pecora, Eric A Hodges, Amy Galloway, Claire Farrow, Flavia Chiarotti, Barbara Caravale, Corinna Gasparini, Serena Gastaldi, Francesca Bellagamba, Elsa Addessi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Western countries, infants are usually introduced to solids through spoon-fed puréed foods (parent-led weaning, PLW). However, an alternative approach known as "baby-led weaning" (BLW), in which infants usually participate in family meals and eat independently, is becoming increasingly popular. We investigated the relationship between the type of complementary feeding approach and maternal responsiveness to infant feeding cues in a longitudinal sample of 178 infants observed at 8 and 12 months. Mothers reported the complementary feeding method used and, from video-recorded meals, we coded the proportion of time infants self-fed and rated maternal responsiveness by means of the Responsiveness to Child Feeding Cues Scale (Hodges et al., 2013). Responsiveness to infant receptiveness and fullness cues were significantly correlated at 8 months, but not at 12 months, when unresponsiveness decreased for receptiveness but remained stable for fullness cues. Thus, as infants got older, mothers were increasingly tuned in to their receptiveness cues. However, we did not observe the same pattern for fullness cues, perhaps because mothers were concerned that their infants did not eat enough. Moreover, at both time points, mothers were more responsive to infants' receptiveness than fullness cues, possibly due to an evolutionary drive to protect infants from starvation. Finally, responsiveness to fullness, but not responsiveness to receptiveness, was positively related to the proportion of infant self-feeding, but there were no significant differences in responsiveness depending on the self-reported complementary feeding approach. Thus, a weaning style that emphasizes independent feeding, regardless of whether this is labeled as BLW, may promote more infant-centered maternal responses at the end of the meal, with potential implications for promoting infant self-regulation not only at mealtimes, but also in other domains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107028
Early online date6 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • Baby-led weaning
  • Complementary feeding
  • Infants
  • Responsiveness
  • Satiety
  • Self-regulation


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