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Spoon-feeding or self-feeding? : the infant's first experience of solid food

Since 2002, the minimum recommended age worldwide for the introduction of solid foods has been six months, an age when most infants are able to bring food to their mouth and chew it, without assistance. Despite this, the practice of spoon feeding with purées remains prevalent and most research to date has examined the introduction of solid foods from the adult’s perspective rather than the infant’s. As a result, factors that may impact on the food preferences of infants, such as the appearance, smell and haptic qualities of food, have not been investigated, nor has the routine use of puréed foods been challenged. Similarly, while differences have been well documented between the processes of breastfeeding and bottle feeding, the possibility that there may be pertinent differences between spoon feeding and self-feeding has not been explored. Overall, the introduction of solid foods has been researched in nutritional terms, rather than in relation to the infant’s experience and his wider learning and development. This study appears to be the first to explore the introduction of solid food from the infant’s perspective. Ten infants were offered a single food, both as a graspable piece and as a spoon-fed purée. The experience was audio/video-recorded and analysed in depth using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. Two interviews were conducted with the mother of each infant, during which they were asked to eat the same food, in the same formats, as their infant, and to comment on the audio/video-recording. The findings indicate that spoon feeding and self-feeding are two contrasting experiences. Self-feeding was seen to be characterised by exploratory behaviour, while spoon feeding showed more evidence of avoidant behaviour by the infant and controlling behaviour by the mother. Possible implications for parental and professional guidance and for future research are discussed.
Date January 2015
CreatorsRapley, G.
PublisherCanterbury Christ Church University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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