• Chapter

Responsive feeding: Strategies to promote healthy mealtime interactions


Black, M., & Hurley, K. M. (2017). Responsive feeding: Strategies to promote healthy mealtime interactions. In R. E. Black, M. Makrides, & K. K. Ong (Eds.), Complementary Feeding: building the foundations for a healthy life Basel, Switzerland: Nestec Ltd. Vevey/S. Karger AG.


Responsive feeding is a derivative of responsive parenting that has been applied to infant and young child feeding. With a theoretical basis in the reciprocal interactions between parents and children, responsive feeding is particularly relevant during complementary feeding as young children progress from an exclusively milk-based liquid diet to the family diet and self-feeding. The period of complementary feeding includes multiple developmental changes that may threaten a successful transition and lead to growth and feeding problems. In spite of high rates of global childhood underweight, stunting, overweight, and obesity, and the inclusion of responsive feeding in the World Health Organization's Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, there have been few intervention trials of responsive feeding. The aim of this chapter is to examine how parents and young children navigate the progression in feeding, with an emphasis on complementary feeding, and to address the following topics: (1) navigating the progression of feeding development, (2) provision of responsive feeding, (3) preventing or resolving growth and feeding problems, (4) responsive feeding research, and (5) strategies to promote healthy mealtime interactions. To advance responsive feeding research and practice, clarity is needed in both measurement and intervention strategies, guided by the reciprocity between parent and child interactions inherent in the theoretical basis of responsive feeding.