Low-Income Women’s Feeding Practices and Perceptions of Dietary Guidance: A Qualitative Study

Jennifer S. Savage, Cody D. Neshteruk, Katherine N. Balantekin, Leann L. Birch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objectives Describe themes characterizing feeding behaviors of low-income women participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and identify the attitudes, beliefs, and sources of information that inform these practices. Methods Formative research was conducted including focus groups and semi-structured individual phone interviews with a total of 68 low-income women participating in WIC. Qualitative data were recorded, transcribed, imported into NVivo 8.0, and analyzed for common themes. Results Mothers reported feeding behaviors inconsistent with guidance from WIC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Three main themes were identified. First, mothers reported receiving conflicting messaging/advice from medical professionals, WIC nutritionists, and family members, which was confusing. Mothers also reported dissatisfaction with the “one size fits most” approach. Lastly, mothers reported relying on their “instincts” and that “all babies are different” when deciding and rationalizing what feeding guidance to follow. Conclusions Future interventions targeting this high-risk population should consider developing personalized (individualized) messaging, tailored to the needs of each mother–child dyad. Focused efforts are needed to build partnerships between WIC providers and other health care providers to provide more consistent messages about responsive feeding to prevent early obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2510-2517
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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