Maternal Behavior and Infant Weight Gain in the First Year

John Worobey, Maria Islas Lopez, Daniel J. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the relative contributions of maternal characteristics and behaviors in predicting infant weight gain over the first year of postpartum life. Design: Longitudinal study of maternal feeding style throughout infancy. Setting: A Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children center. Participants: Ninety-six low-income, minority mother-infant dyads. Main Outcome Measures: Infant weight gain at 3, 6, and 12 months. Analysis: Multiple linear and backward regressions. Results: None of the mother-infant perinatal measures predicted infant weight gain from birth to 3 months, nor did measures from birth to 3 months predict weight gain from 3 to 6 months. However, the number of feedings and lessened maternal sensitivity to infant cues predicted weight gain from 6 to 12 months. Conclusions and Implications: These results suggest that feeding plays an important role in promoting rapid weight gain in infants, since the maternal reports of feeding frequency, as well as their lessened sensitivity to the infants' cues, indicate that the infants in this study may have been regularly overfed. Nutrition educators who work with low-income populations should provide guidance to mothers in feeding their infants by helping them to recognize hunger signals and respond to satiety cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • infant weight gain
  • maternal behavior


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