Relative contributions of parent-perceived child characteristics to variation in child feeding behavior.


Few studies have examined the relative impact of co-occurring child characteristics on problematic feeding behavior. The aim of the current study was to assess the relative contributions of parent-perceived child characteristics in multivariable models of child feeding behavior. One hundred sixty-one mothers reported on their child’s feeding behavior and a number of key child characteristics. These characteristics were entered into controlled multivariable models of child feeding behavior, using child and parent frequency domains of the Behavioral Pediatrics Feeding Assessment Scale (BPFAS; W. Crist et al., ) as outcome measures. Child feeding problems were positively associated with food neophobia and external behavioral and social issues, but not with most domains of temperamental difficulty or sensory sensitivity. Feeding problem frequency was associated with externalizing symptoms whereas parental perceptions of problems and coping were associated with social-interaction problems in the child. Population feeding problems appear to be external and interactive problems rather than driven by innate or internalizing factors. The association with externalizing symptoms suggests that feeding problems at this level may fall within a wider profile of challenging behavior; however, the existence of problematic feeding behaviors may constitute a challenge for parents only when the child’s social interactions also are seen to be deficient.