Food parenting practices (FPPs) are important in shaping children's dietary behaviors. However, existing FPP knowledge is largely based on research with mothers.
This study (1) identified fathers' FPPs; (2) described differences in FPP use by fathers' education and residential status.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 40 fathers (39 ± 9.1 years; 37.5% non-residential; 40% ≥college education). Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. NVivo 10 was used for theme detection, categorization and classification using inductive and deductive approaches. FPPs were identified and their relative distribution was examined across education and residential status.
Twenty FPPs were identified - 13 responsive practices and 7 unresponsive practices. Having food rules was the most common responsive FPP (81.5%), followed by feeding on schedule (60%) and making healthy food accessible (60%). Common unresponsive FPPs were letting child dictate preferences (70%), incentivizing food consumption (60%) and pressuring the child to eat (35%). Compared to fathers with a college education, more fathers without a college education reported letting child dictate preferences (92% vs. 37%), educating their children about food (37% vs 12%), fewer reported feeding on schedule (50% vs. 75%), modeling healthy practices (29% vs. 50%), and using distraction to feed (4% vs. 37%). Compared to residential fathers, more non-residential fathers monitored (60% vs. 40%) or encouraged (60% vs. 36%) child food intake and let child dictate preferences (87% vs. 60%).
Fathers used an extensive variety of FPPs, similar to those identified in mothers. Further study on the influence of fathers' education and residential status on FPP use is warranted.