Child eating behaviors contribute to individual variability in weight status and are influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Feeding practices have been identified as a potentially modifiable factor that can influence children’s dietary intake and eating behaviors.
However, the majority of research in the field has been cross-sectional whereas more recently a bi-directional relationship between parent feeding and child eating has been proposed. The purpose of this review is to provide a summary of patterns of findings related to feeding practices that may support or undermine children’s eating behaviors. The focus is specifically on eating behaviors related to appetite regulation and obesity risk. Evidence for the potential effect of non-responsive feeding practices as well as structure-related practices is presented.
In sum, there is evidence that parents’ feeding practices do impact on children’s eating behaviors but children’s eating behaviors also influence the feeding practices parents use. Suggestions for future research in terms of design, measures and research questions are proposed. Future work in this area will serve to build the evidence base for targeted intervention strategies that can guide parents to feed their children in a way that optimises child health.