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Understanding how complementary feeding method longitudinally affects developmental outcomes in young children

The Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the National Research Council of Italy (ISTC-CNR), Sapienza University of Rome, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Appalachian State University (USA), Aston University (UK) and Associazione Culturale Pediatri are collaborating on a research project on the development of eating behavior in children from 4 months to 2 years of age, funded by the Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research (PRIN 2017 -- Projects of Relevant National Interest).

The development of eating behavior in early childhood is fundamental for the healthy development and well-being throughout the lifespan. It is therefore important to investigate factors influencing the infant’s eating behavior during the transition from breast milk or formula to the introduction of solid foods. Like many other developmental milestones achieved by the child in the first and second year of life, learning to eat independently is a very important step, which each child reaches at different times.

There are still quite a few studies aiming at understanding which factors promote a healthy relationship with food in the first years of life and what are the implications of the complementary feeding method for child’s development.

To this end, we are beginning an extensive research that will involve 150 mothers with their child, starting from 4 months of age and up to the second year of life. During this period, we will meet mothers and children five times (at 4, 8, 12, 18, and 24 months of age) in order to investigate the influence of complementary feeding methods on achieving the main stages of motor, linguistic and cognitive development.

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