Maternal Distraction During Breast- and Bottle Feeding Among WIC and non-WIC Mothers



      To explore the prevalence and correlates of maternal distraction during infant feeding within a sample of mothers enrolled or not in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC).


      Mothers kept diaries of their infants' feeding patterns.


      Mothers (n = 75) with infants aged ≤6 months.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Within the diaries, mothers recorded what else, if anything, they did during the feeding. Mothers also completed questionnaires on demographics, feeding styles, and infant temperament and eating behaviors.


      Mothers' responses were coded into thematic categories. Feedings were classified as distracted when the mothers reported doing something other than feeding and/or interacting with the infant. Logistic regression was used to explore whether mothers exhibited different levels of distraction when breastfeeding (BF) vs bottle feeding. The researchers used multiple stepwise regression to explore associations between distracted feeding and characteristics of mothers and infants.


      Distractions were reported during 43% of feedings; 26% involved technological distractors. Mothers who were multiparous and perceived that their infants had greater appetites reported greater levels of any distraction during feeding. Mothers who were of racial/ethnic minorities, adhered to laissez faire feeding style, had younger infants, and perceived their infants to have lower food responsiveness and greater appetite reported greater levels of technological distraction. Being enrolled in WIC was not associated with mothers' levels of distracted feeding.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Mothers reported a wide variety of distractions during both BF and bottle feeding; higher levels of distraction were associated with characteristics of both mothers and infants. Further research is needed to understand whether and how maternal distraction affects feeding outcomes. Awareness of such distractions and their potential impact would be useful to practitioners working with pregnant and postpartum women.

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