Lege Artis Medicinae

[Feeding and eating in infancy and early childhood part III. - Development of self-feeding skills in the large-sample of the “For Healthy Offspring” project ]

NÉMETH Tünde, VÁRADY Erzsébet, DANIS Ildikó, SCHEURING Noémi, SZABÓ László

SEPTEMBER 20, 2018

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2018;28(08-09)

[Feeding and eating in infancy and early childhood part III. - Development of self-feeding skills in the large-sample of the “For Healthy Offspring” project INTRODUCTION - After introducing adequate complementary food to the diet of breastfed/formula-fed babies, the frequency and amount of semisolid/solid food is increasing, the breastmilk/formula intake is decreasing and finally the weaning process is completed. During this process the developing feeding skills of the infant enables them to self-feed. The self-feeding infant and toddler should participate in family meals. SUBJECTS AND METHODS - In the Healthy Offspring project self reported questionnaires were received from 1133 parents of 0-3 year old children. Issues concerning the development of self-feeding skills were analyzed. RESULTS - With advancing age the proportion of infants/toddlers, reported to be able to (partially) self-feed, has increased. The age, at which the majority of toddlers (83.1%) were reported to self-feed, was at 13-15 months. By the age over 2 years 57.2% of the toddlers were fully self-feeding, 39.3% were self-feeding with some assistance, and 3.5% were still completely fed by their mother/caregiver. While self-feeding became more prevalent, the proportion of toddlers with feeding problems and insufficient weight gain has increased. With more prevalent complementary feeding more parents assessed their feeding style rather scheduled than on demand. In the whole sample the proportion of infants/toddlers, who ate with the family, was 43.8%. CONCLUSIONS - In our sample, as previously described in the scientific literature, the developmental readiness to self-feed has developed in the majority of infants by the age of 13-15 months. During progres­sion of weaning an increasing proportion of parents thought, that feeding was rather scheduled than on demand. This finding points at the importance of educating parents about the importance of responsive feeding during and after weaning. For self-feeding toddlers, responsive feeding means, that the mother/caregiver offers a choice of healthy and adequate amount of food, at a proper place, at proper times, responds to the hunger and satiety cues of the child and the toddler decides, whether to eat, what and how much to eat.]

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