The stability and continuity of maternally reported and observed child eating behaviours and feeding practices across early childhood

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Given that many eating behaviours and food preferences develop early in childhood and track across childhood, adolescence and into adulthood, interest has grown in the developmental trajectory of these behaviours. The aims of this study were twofold. First, to explore whether maternal reports of child eating behaviour and feeding practices are validated by independent observations of these constructs. Second, to explore the continuity and stability of both maternally reported and independently observed child eating behaviours and maternal feeding practices during early childhood. Sixty-five mothers completed measures of their child’s eating behaviour and their own feeding practices and mother–child dyads were observed during a family mealtime at approximately 3 and 4 years of age. Maternal reports of their child’s eating behaviours were validated by independent observations, however maternally reported feeding practices were not validated by observations of these behaviours. Maternally reported and independently observed child eating behaviours and parental feeding practices remained stable and showed continuity between 3 and 4 years of age, with the exception of child difficulty to feed and maternal pressure to eat which both significantly decreased over time. Findings provide an insight into the validity of maternal reports of fussy eating behaviour and parental feeding practices and the developmental trajectory of these behaviours across early childhood.



Original languageEnglish
Article number1017
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2018

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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


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