Does Paced Bottle-Feeding Improve the Quality and Outcomes of Bottle-Feeding Interactions?

Responsive feeding is widely recognized as the ideal way to feed infants because it is associated with healthier eating behaviors and growth outcomes. During responsive feeding, infants are fed in ways that are developmentally appropriate and responsive to their hunger and fullness cues. Unfortunately, many bottle-feeding families receive inadequate support for learning responsive bottle-feeding because breastfeeding support is prioritized in health care settings. Promotion of breastfeeding is an important focus for public health efforts, but a significant proportion of families bottle-feed their infants, either exclusively or in combination with breastfeeding.

Evidence-based strategies are needed to support bottle-feeding families. One promising strategy is the Paced Bottle-Feeding method, which incorporates many ideas and feeding practices consistent with the concept of responsive feeding. This approach to bottle-feeding aims to mimic the aspects of breastfeeding that promote balanced control between caregiver and infant and allow the infant to set the pace of the feeding in response to feelings of hunger and fullness.

Although Paced Bottle-Feeding is sometimes taught in perinatal education settings, teaching new parents about Paced Bottle-Feeding is not an evidence-based practice because, to our knowledge, there have been no scientific studies evaluating the effectiveness of Paced Bottle-Feeding. To address this research gap, we propose an experimental study of 60 mother-infant dyads. We will observe dyads during breastfeeding and typical bottle-feeding interactions. We will then teach mothers the Paced Bottle-Feeding method and observe dyads during Paced Bottle-Feeding interactions.

This study will allow us to directly test the alleged benefits of Paced Bottle-Feeding. Overall, the aims of this study are to explore the ways in which bottle-feeding can go well and identify approaches to better support bottle-feeding families.

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About the Research Team

This project is led by Principle Investigator Alison Ventura, PhD, CLEC, FTOS. She a is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Public Health at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She is also Director of the Cal Poly Healthy Kids Lab and Associate Director of Research Training and Fellowship for the Cal Poly Center for Health Research. Dr. Ventura holds degrees in Psychology, Nutrition, and Human Development and Family Studies.

Her expertise is in early childhood nutrition and development, with a particular focus on understanding how parent-child feeding interactions influence the development of children’s eating behaviors, food preferences, and health outcomes. With over 15 years of experience researching and promoting healthy development for children and families as well as being a Certificated Lactation Educator Counselor, she’s a true expert in the science behind optimal supportive infant feeding for all feeding journeys.

Much of Dr. Ventura’s recent work focuses on promotion of responsive feeding during breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, and the introduction to complementary foods and beverages.

Study Communications

Dr. Alison Ventura presenting the descriptive findings from this project’s pilot study at the American Society for Nutrition conference in July 2023 - examining awareness, use, and potential benefits of paced bottle-feeding among mothers with term infants. You can hear more about these results directly from Dr. Ventura by watching the webinar From Evidence to Empowerment: Supporting Bottle-Feeding Parents with Emerging Science. FYI Dietitians and Nurses can earn free continued education for watching this webinar!

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Let’s build the future of infant feeding together

We invite the scientific community to join us in our efforts to evolve infant feeding. Bobbie Labs supports scientific research projects such as clinical trials, observational studies, systematic review or meta-analysis, nutrient profiling, or discovery work.

Currently, our application window is closed. To stay informed about future Requests for Proposals (RFP’s), join our mailing list.

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