The environment or setting to which an infant is exposed is crucial to establishing healthy eating habits and to preventing obesity. This study aimed to compare infant feeding practices and complementary food type between parent care (PC) and childcare (CC) settings among infants receiving the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This study sampled 105 dyads of mothers and infants between 2 to 8 months of age from a WIC office in Central Illinois. Mothers completed a cross-sectional survey to assess their infant feeding practices and demographic characteristics. CC was defined as infants receiving 10 hours or more per week of care from a nonparental caregiver.
Almost half of the infants (44%) were enrolled in CC. Infants in CC had an average of 29 hours of care per week compared with 0.64 hours in the PC group (p<0.01). There were no differences between the two groups in age, sex, race/ethnicity, preterm birth, and birth weight. Overall, there were no significant differences in breastfeeding initiation and duration. The average age at formula introduction was earlier for PC infants (0.90 ± 1.16 months) than for CC infants (1.66 ± 1.64 months) (p = 0.03). PC infants stopped breastfeeding at 1.96 ± 1.15 months compared with 2.31 ± 1.64 months for CC infants (p = 0.080). Among complementary foods introduced to infants, the primary food type was infant cereal, followed by baby food of fruits and vegetables, 100% fruit juice, and meat-based baby food. The timing of introduction and the types of complementary foods were similar between study groups.
CC use is not a significant influence on breastfeeding rates, introduction of complementary foods, and types of complementary foods; however, it does influence when formula is introduced. The findings support the need for infant nutrition education and breastfeeding promotion targeting WIC mothers, regardless of their pattern of CC.
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