Food avoidance in children: the influence of maternal feeding practices and behaviours

Faye C. Powell, Claire V. Farrow, Caroline Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to examine the contribution of a broad range of maternal feeding practices in predicting parental reports of food avoidance eating behaviours in young children, after controlling for child temperament, and maternal dietary restraint which have previously been associated with feeding problems. One hundred and four mothers of children aged between 3 and 6 years completed self report measures of their child's eating behaviour and temperament, maternal dietary restraint and child feeding practices. Maternal reports of food avoidance eating behaviours were associated with an emotional child temperament, high levels of maternal feeding control, using food for behaviour regulation and low encouragement of a balanced and varied food intake. Maternal feeding practices, predominantly pressure to eat, significantly predicted food avoidance eating behaviours after controlling for child emotionality and maternal dietary restraint. The significant contribution of maternal feeding practices, which are potentially modifiable behaviours, suggests that the feeding interactions of parents and their children should be targeted for intervention and the prevention of feeding difficulties during early childhood. Future research should continue to explore how a broader range of feeding practices, particular those that may be more adaptive, might influence child eating behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-692
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Appetite. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Powell, FC, Farrow, CV & Meyer, C, 'Food avoidance in children: the influence of maternal feeding practices and behaviours' Appetite, vol. 57, no. 3 (2011)


  • feeding problems
  • feeding practices
  • food avoidance
  • restriction
  • pressure
  • children
  • emotionality
  • temperament
  • dietary restraint
  • fussy eating
  • eating behaviour


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