Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


First Advisor

Megan S. Kelley

Second Advisor

Jason D. Coleman

Third Advisor

Heather E. Rasmussen

Date of this Version



Martin, Tyler (2020). Mothers' Experience with Infant Complementary Feeding Practices: A Phenomenological Study.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences (Nutrition and Health Sciences), Under the Supervision of Professor Megan S. Kelley. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2020

Copyright 2020 Tyler Martin


Background. Complementary feeding practices include what, when, and how to feed (Birch and Doub, 2014). The gradual transition from feeding exclusively human milk, formula milk, or a combination of both to complementary foods over the first 24 months of life is necessary to ensure proper growth and development (Dewey, 2001; Pearce & Langley-Evans, 2013). While research does exist on complementary feeding, such as infant diet composition, limited research exists on exploring complementary feeding practices from first-time mothers’ experiences.

Methods. This study utilized transcendental phenomenological qualitative research methodology. A pilot tested semi-structured interview guide was used to examine demographics as well as mothers’ experiences with complementary feeding practices.

Results. Most (73%) of participants received complementary feeding information from their pediatrician. Eight themes emerged from the data. The themes included: “Going in Pretty Blind;” An Array of Feelings; “What the Heck is This;” “Food is Fun Until One;” “The Whole Allergy Concept;” Challenges to Complementary Feeding; Support Systems make Complementary Feeding Easier; and Cues to Start Complementary Feeding.

Conclusion. These findings are important to the field of nutrition and provide nutrition professionals with a better understanding of complementary feeding from the first-time mothers’ perspective. The knowledge gained can be used in practice to better support and prepare mothers during the transition from milk feeding to complementary feeding. These findings could also be used as the foundation to design health promotion programs that focus on the introduction of new foods to infants.

Advisor: Megan S. Kelley

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Nutrition Commons