Factors That Influence Maternal Feeding Decisions for Toddlers: Extending the Theory of Planned Behavior

Elizabeth Combs, Melinda Ickes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To use the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to assess mothers’ behavioral intentions to provide toddlers with a healthy diet and see if the addition of the parental role construction (PRC) variable strengthened the TPB. Design: An online survey using data gathered from preliminary research and a previously validated survey. Participants: The final sample consisted of 148 mothers. The mean age was 32.8 (SD = 6.16) years. Most participants were married (87.2%), had earned a college degree or higher (79.7%), held part-time or full-time employment (60.8%), and were White (90.3%). Main Outcome Measures: The TPB constructs, PRC, and the mothers’ behavioral intentions surrounding toddler feeding. Analysis: The determinants of intention per the TPB were explored using descriptive statistics and multiple linear regression. Results: The TPB model predicted 53% of the variance in mother's behavioral intention to provide their toddler with a healthy diet. The addition of the PRC variable added 6% more predictive power to the model. Conclusions and Implications: Mothers’ behavioral intentions surrounding feeding their toddlers were strongly influenced by the TPB constructs and their perceptions of the maternal role. Health promotion efforts should aim to increase the mother's sense of behavioral control and parental responsibility rather than focusing on the benefits of healthy eating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-590
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior


  • Theory of Planned Behavior
  • mothers
  • nutrition
  • parental role construction
  • toddlers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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