Because feeding problems have clear negative consequences for both child and caretakers, early diagnosis and intervention are important. Parent-report questionnaires can contribute to early identification, because they are efficient and typically offer a ‘holistic’ perspective of the child's eating in different contexts. In this pilot study, we aim to explore the concurrent validity of a short screening instrument (the SEP, which is the Dutch MCH-FS) in one of its target populations (a group of premature children) by comparing the total score with the observed behavior of the child and caretaker during a regular home meal. 28 toddlers (aged 9–18 months) and their caretakers participated in the study. Video-observations of the meals were coded for categories of eating behavior and parent–child interaction.
The results show that the total SEP-score correlates with food refusal, feeding efficiency, and self-feeding, but not with negative affect and parental instructions. This confirms that the SEP has a certain degree of concurrent validity in the sense that its total score is associated with specific ‘benchmark’ feeding behaviors: food refusal, feeding efficiency and autonomy. Future studies with larger samples are needed to generalize the findings from this pilot to a broader context.