Background: Current measures of parent feeding practices are typically survey-based and assessed as static/unchanging characteristics, failing to account for fluctuations in these behaviors across time and context. The current study uses ecological momentary assessment to examine variability of, and predictors of, parent feeding practices within a low-income, racially/ethnically diverse, and immigrant sample. Methods: Children ages 5–7 years old and their parents (n = 150 dyads) from six racial/ethnic groups (n = 25 from each; Black/African American, Hispanic, Hmong, Native American, Somali, White) were recruited for this mixed-methods study through primary care clinics. Results: Among parents who used restriction (49%) and pressure-to-eat (69%) feeding practices, these feeding practices were utilized about every other day. Contextual factors at the meal associated with parent feeding practices included: number of people at the meal, who prepared the meal, types of food served at meals (e.g., pre-prepared, homemade, fast food), meal setting (e.g., kitchen table, front room), and meal emotional atmosphere (p < 0.05). Parents tended to restrict desserts, dairy, and vegetables and pressure children to eat fruits, vegetables, meat proteins, and refined grains (p < 0.05). There were some differences by race/ethnicity across findings (p < 0.01), with Hmong parents engaging in the highest levels of pressure-to-eat feeding practices. Conclusions: Parent feeding practices varied across the week, indicating feeding practices are more likely to be context-specific, or state-like than trait-like. There were some meal characteristics more strongly associated with engaging in restriction and pressure-to-eat feeding practices. Given that parent feeding practices appear to be state-like, future interventions and health care providers who work with parents and children may want to address contextual factors associated with parent feeding practices to decrease restriction and pressure-to-eat parent feeding practices.
- Ecological momentary assessment
- Parent feeding practices