Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Parham, Ellen S.||Burnett, Alice O.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Home Economics


Bottle feeding; Breast feeding; Infants--Nutrition


The present study was undertaken as a first step in examining the relationship of communication and interaction during early feeding and subsequent behavior development. The purpose was to assess and record current feeding practices of six month old infants. Birth announcements in the DeKalb "Daily Chronicle" newspaper provided names of potential subjects. Eligible families received a letter informing them of the study and soliciting their participation. A follow-up phone call confirmed interview times for those who agreed to participate. Each respondent was administered a questionnaire personally by this investigator with the assistance of three nutrition students from Northern Illinois University. The interviewer verbalized the. questionnaire and recorded the responses while the entire interview was tape recorded. The aim of the questionnaire was to record the feeding practices of the mother-infant pairs in regard to the type of feedings used and when, the schedule of feedings, infants' reactions and responses to eating and mothers' attitudes. The responses of thirty-five mothers, thirteen primapara and twenty-two multipara, from DeKalb and nearby communities in Illinois comprise the data reported herein. The survey revealed a majority (74.3%) of mothers began breastfeeding in the hospital. After six months, nine mothers (25.7%) continued to breastfeed. The mean duration of breastfeeding was 3.7 months. All thirteen primaparous mothers chose to breastfeed initially; four weaned the infant within one month and four breastfed at least six months. All bottlefeeding mothers were multiparous. Commercially prepared infant formula was used by twenty-eight mothers (80%) either from birth, subsequent to weaning from the breast or as a supplemental feeding to breastmilk. Low-fat, 2%, milk was used by the majority (75%) of mothers who used cow's milk<(n = 24). No infant was found to have a frank allergy to milk. Mothers were especially alert (77.1%) to the cues of the infant as a determinant of the amount of milk to feed, with 28.6% indicating infant cues as the only determining factor. By comparison, the advice of the physician played a prominent role as a determinant of when to introduce semi-solid foods, being an influence for 68.6% of the mothers. Significant differences were noted in the mean age of introduction of semi-solid foods between breastfed infants(mean age, 2.65 months) and bottlefed infants (mean age, 0.94 months) and also between infants weaned prior to three months of age (mean age, 1.35 months) and those weaned between three and six months (mean age, 3.46 months). Breastfeeding, then, delayed the feeding of additional foodstuffs. No relationship was noted between the introduction of semi- solid foods and the infant's habit of sleeping at least eight hours at night. For the eight infants who did not sleep through the night at six months of age, the age of introduction of semi-solid foods ranged from one month to five-and-a-half months. The general attitude of most mothers in this study was one of willing acceptance regarding nuances in the infant's feeding behavior. However, this investigator noted an exceptionally calm demeanor among the mothers who continued to breastfeed after six months. A causal relationship cannot be validated by this study, but it is suggestive that long term successful breastfeeding fosters the development of a mother-infant relationship which is relatively free of conflict in regards to feeding behavior. The infant is likely to respond in a similar manner to a mother who emanates patience and understanding. This type of relationship is more likely to envelop interactions beyond the scope of eating behavior as the infant grows and develops.


Includes bibliographical references.


iv, 89 pages




Northern Illinois University

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