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Title: Early feeding experiences, individual characteristics, and their impact on infant feeding outcomes
Author: Komninou, S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 1909
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2016
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Early life experiences impose long lasting effects on health and wellbeing. The early development of eating habits and flavour preferences associated with a healthy diet can help to extend and improve the quality of life. A variety of factors contribute to this process and the resulting early feeding choices have an impact on parents and infants alike. Initially, nutritional factors provide the key influence, with maternal diet affecting the flavour profile of amniotic fluid and breast milk. In doing so, these factors shape the type of flavours recognised as “familiar” and “safe” by the infant. Later parental behavioural inputs interact at different levels, and with an increasing influence, to further mould infants’ and toddlers’ eating related behaviours. This thesis aims to explore elements of the nutrition and behavioural inputs during early life by employing a bi-directional focus. In a small-scale laboratory study comparing vegetable acceptance between breast-fed and formula-fed infants it was found, contrary to hypotheses that the intake of vegetable puree did not vary with milk feeding type. Maternal ratings of their infant’s enjoyment of the vegetables were also comparable between the two groups. With the recognition that mothers likely use multiple means of assessing vegetable preference, the rationale for the enjoyment ratings applied was further explored. Two main categories of cues were derived ‘explicit cues’ and ‘implicit cues, with the first most commonly applied. Finally, the potential for mother-infant interactions to provide insight into vegetable acceptance was explored. Results suggested that mothers might adjust their interactions with their baby during feeding depending on the food familiarity. However, outcomes should be considered with caution due to various methodological limitations and the small sample size. The focus of subsequent research was guided by the methodological limitations identified in the laboratory based. The final online survey was targeted at weaning practices. Specifically, it demonstrated positive associations between the baby-led weaning approach and the use of health promoting parental feeding practices to achieve positive eating behaviour outcomes in toddlers. Although results were encouraging, as BLW is relatively contemporary in the literature, further research is required to explore the long-term benefits of this weaning method.
Supervisor: Harrold, J. A. ; Halford, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral