BACKGROUND: INSIGHT tested an early life responsive parenting (RP) intervention designed for obesity prevention. BMIz at age 3 years was lower for the RP group versus controls with a larger effect for girls than boys. We sought to determine if child sex was associated with differing maternal feeding practices and whether sex moderated intervention effects on feeding.
DESIGN/METHODS: Mothers (N=279) completed the Infant Feeding Styles Questionnaire (IFSQ) at 28 weeks, the Structure and Control in Parent Feeding (SCPF) at 1, 2, and 3 years, and the Child Feeding Questionnaire (CFQ) at 3 years. Study aims were tested using two-way analysis of variance and repeated measures.
RESULTS: Mothers reported greater restriction (limiting food quantity) for boys at 28 weeks (IFSQ: 3.0 ± 1.1 vs. 2.8 ± 1.0, P = .07) and across annual measurements from age 1 to 3 years (SCPF: P = .04). At age 3, the intervention group effect on restriction differed by sex (CFQ: P = .047) such that higher restriction was reported by RP group mothers of boys versus girls (3.4 ± 0.7 vs. 3.0 ± 0.9, P = .002) with no control group sex difference (3.4 ± 0.8 vs. 3.3 ± 0.9, P = .79). There were no sex differences or sex by intervention group interactions in other reported feeding practices at any assessment (i.e., structure-based feeding, pressure).
CONCLUSION: Mothers of boys used more restrictive feeding through age 3. These findings may be partially explained by previously reported better self-soothing and self-regulation abilities of participating girls.