The goal of the present study was to determine whether mothers' assessment of their infants' temperament is associated with objective measures of the infant's acceptance patterns and their judgments of the infants' liking of a green vegetable. To this end, infants (N = 92) were video-recorded as their mothers fed them green beans. From these videos, we determined the frequency of facial distaste expressions made during the first 2 min of the feeding. Other measures included intake, maternal ratings of infants' enjoyment of this vegetable, and temperament. Infants who scored high on the approach dimension of the temperament questionnaire were less likely to express facial expressions of distaste, consumed more food, and were perceived by their mothers as enjoying the food more. Mediation analyses revealed that ratings of enjoyment were not directly related to the child's approach temperament, but rather the relationship between mothers' ratings and temperament was mediated by the amount of time infants spent eating the vegetable. Regression analyses suggested that in addition to the length of time children ate, mothers' ratings of their infants' enjoyment was predicted by the number of squints that the infant expressed during the meal. These findings suggest that although certain aspects of children's temperament are related to their food acceptance, mothers attend to facial expressions and time spent eating independently of these temperamental characteristics when judging their infant's enjoyment of a food. Understanding how mothers use this information to decide which foods to feed their infants is an important area for future research.
Journal Article URL
Forestell, Catherine A. and Mennella, Julie A., More than just a pretty face. The relationship between infant's temperament, food acceptance, and mothers' perceptions of their enjoyment of food (2012). Appetite, 58(3), 1136-1142.