Maternal core beliefs and children's feeding problems

Jackie Blissett, Caroline Meyer, Claire Farrow, Rachel Bryant-Waugh, Dasha Nicholls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Although maternal mental health problems have been implicated in the exacerbation of childhood feeding difficulties, little research has assessed the contribution of broader maternal cognitions to these problems. The current study examined gender differences in the relationships between mothers' core beliefs and children's feeding problems.


One hundred and three mothers of girls and 93 mothers of boys (age range, 7–64 months) completed the Young Schema Questionnaire and the Child Feeding Assessment Questionnaire.


While controlling for child age, a clear link between maternal core beliefs and perceived feeding difficulties emerged for mothers of girls. In particular, abandonment, failure to achieve, dependence and incompetence, enmeshment and defectiveness, and shame beliefs were associated with increased reports of feeding problems in girls. In contrast, emotional deprivation and subjugation beliefs were associated with maternal reports of food fussiness and food refusal in boys.

Conclusions There appears to be a clear role for maternal core beliefs in the reporting of feeding difficulties in children, and the specificity of these links differs depending on the gender of the child. Further research is required to establish the direction of causality and the specificity of these relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number2
Early online date24 Feb 2005
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • feeding problems
  • gender differences
  • maternal cognitions


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