Mother-child touch patterns in infant feeding disorders: Relation to maternal, child, and environmental factors

Ruth Feldman*, Miri Keren, Orna Gross-Rozval, Sam Tyano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine mother and child's touch patterns in infant feeding disorders within a transactional framework. Method: Infants (aged 9-34 months) referred to a community-based clinic were diagnosed with feeding disorders (n = 20) or other primary disorder (n = 27) and were case matched with nonreferred controls (n = 47). Mother-child play and feeding were observed and the home environment was assessed. Microcoding detected touch patterns, response to partner's touch, and proximity at play. Relational behaviors were coded during feeding. Results: Compared with infants with other primary disorder and case-matched controls, less maternal affectionate, proprioceptive, and unintentional touch was observed in those with feeding disorders. Children with feeding disorders displayed less affectionate touch, more negative touch, and more rejection of the mother's touch. More practical and rejecting maternal responses to the child's touch were observed, and children were positioned more often out of reach of the mothers' arms. Children with feeding disorders exhibited more withdrawal during feeding and the home environment was less optimal. Feeding efficacy was predicted by mother-child touch, reduced maternal depression and intrusiveness, easy infant temperament, and less child withdrawal, controlling for group membership. Conclusions: Proximity and touch are especially disturbed in feeding disorders, suggesting fundamental relationship difficulties. Mothers provide less touch that supports growth, and children demonstrate signs of touch aversion. Touch patterns may serve as risk indicators of potential growth failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1097
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004


FundersFunder number
Ricklis Family Foundation


    • DC 0-3
    • Feeding disorders
    • Home Observation for Measurement of Environment
    • Mother-infant relationship
    • Touch


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