Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Public Health Nutrition: 19(7), 1200–1210 doi:10.1017/S1368980015002220


Used by permission.


Objective: To identify the social contextual factors, specifically the presence of information that supports v. undermines clinical recommendations, associated with infant feeding behaviours among mothers in low-income areas.

Design: Cross-sectional survey evaluating social support networks and social relationships involved in providing care to the infant along with feeding beliefs and practices.

Setting: Out-patient paediatric and government-funded (Women, Infants, and Children) clinics in an urban, low-income area of the south-eastern USA.

Subjects: Eighty-one low-income mothers of infants between 0 and 12 months old.

Results: Most mothers reported receiving both supportive and undermining advice. The presence of breast-feeding advice that supports clinical recommendations was associated with two infant feeding practices that are considered beneficial to infant health: ever breast-feeding (OR=6·7; 95 % CI 1·2, 38·1) and not adding cereal in the infant’s bottle (OR=15·9; 95 % CI 1·1, 227·4). Advice that undermines clinical recommendations to breast-feed and advice about solid foods were not associated with these behaviours.

Conclusions: Efforts to facilitate optimal infant feeding practices may focus on increasing information supportive of clinical recommendations while concentrating less on reducing the presence of undermining information within mothers’ networks. Cultural norms around breast-feeding may be stronger than the cultural norms around the introduction of solid foods in mothers’ social environments; thus, additional efforts to increase information regarding introduction of solid foods earlier in mothers’ infant care career may be beneficial.