A recent paper on an ongoing randomized clinical trial – Intervention Nurses Start Infants Growing on Healthy Trajectories (INSIGHT) – showed an association between a responsive parenting intervention and reduced rapid weight gain during the first 6 months after birth and overweight status at age 1.
The researchers recruited 279 first-time mothers and their babies and assigned half of them to the INSIGHT responsive parenting intervention and the other half to a control group receiving child safety information.
Mothers in the intervention group received responsive parenting training from nurses, addressing four infant behavioral states: feeding, sleep, emotional regulation, and interactive play. For example, age appropriate sleep hygiene instructions promoted longer sleep duration and avoidance of feeding to sleep while the emotion regulation component encouraged parents to use alternative strategies besides feeding to calm a fussy infant. By developing these skills, the babies in turn could be learning to listen to their own body cues such as hunger and fullness.
At one year, 12.7 percent of the infants in the control group were considered overweight, compared to just 5.5 percent of the infants in the INSIGHT group. The intervention worked equally for breastfed and formula-fed babies.
The researchers continue to follow this cohort in order to see if the effects of the intervention are still present as the children get older.