Associations between parenting style and parent and toddler mealtime behaviors

Amy K.M. Podlesak, Marisa E. Mozer, Sarah Smith-Simpson, Soo Yeun Lee, Sharon M. Donovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: By the time a child is 24 mo old, 50% of parents report experiencing picky eating behaviors with their child. These behaviors include consuming an inadequate dietary variety, eating the same foods repeatedly, and an unwillingness to try either new or familiar foods. Previous research has established relations with regard to the impact of parent feeding strategies on child mealtime behaviors and how parent feeding strategies are influenced by parenting style; however, to our knowledge, no studies have investigated whether there is an association between parenting style and perceived child mealtime behaviors specifically related to picky eating. Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a relation exists between general parenting style and both parent feeding strategies and perceived picky eater and non-picky eater (NPE) behaviors. Methods: Parents of 2- to 5-y-old children (n = 525) completed 2 online surveys: 1) the Mealtime Assessment Survey, which measures the frequency of parent and child mealtime behaviors, and 2) the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire, which measures authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting styles. Spearman's correlation analysis was conducted to determine the relations between parenting style and mealtime behavior. Results: Positive correlations were found between an authoritative parenting style and NPE behaviors, as well as parent mealtime strategies that promote positive eating habits. Authoritarian and permissive parenting styles were positively correlated with child behaviors associated with picky eating and parent mealtime strategies that can negatively influence child feeding. Conclusions: These findings suggest that a relation exists between general parenting style and both parent and child mealtime behaviors; however, the directionality of the relation remains unknown. The positive correlations seen within the authoritative parenting style with regard to NPE behaviors suggest the use of authoritative feeding methods to overcome feeding difficulties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000570
JournalCurrent Developments in Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Feeding practices
  • Mealtime strategies
  • Parenting style
  • Picky eating
  • Toddler feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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