Infant feeding responsiveness: a conceptual analysis


Anne Mentro, Ohio State University School of Nursing, 1585 Neil Avenue Box no. 325, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. E-mail:


Infant feeding responsiveness: a conceptual analysis

Background. The phenomenon of infant responsiveness to the caregiver during feeding interactions has been of interest to researchers for many years, because of its associated implications for child growth and development. Although many studies have examined feeding responsiveness in caregiver–infant dyads, it is infrequently and inconsistently defined in the literature.

Specific Aims. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the concept of infant feeding responsiveness through the provision of a working definition of the concept for further study and usage.

Methods. Medline, CINAHL, and PschInfo databases from the year 1970 to the present were searched for English articles containing the keywords ‘infant’, ‘feeding’, ‘responsiveness’, ‘synchrony’, and/or ‘interaction’. Articles were selected for inclusion according to whether or not the phenomenon of infant feeding responsiveness was defined or assessed. Walker and Avant’s (1995) method for concept analysis was employed for the development of defining attributes, case examples, antecedents, and consequences for further clarification of the concept of infant feeding responsiveness.

Findings. Infant feeding responsiveness was defined as the manifestation of physiologically influenced visual, expressive, vocal and motor reactive behaviours expressed by an infant in reaction to a caregiver’s feeding attempts, indicating a readiness to feed.

Conclusions. Implications for nursing are explored as well as the need for refinement of measures of this concept.