Examining infant and toddler feeding practices

The Challenge 

Poor nutrition can have a detrimental effect on a woman’s pregnancy, as well as on the subsequent physical and cognitive development of her infant. In 1974, the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children program, popularly known as WIC, was established to remedy nutritional deficiencies often experienced by low-income women, infants, and children (up to age 5) through the provision of food assistance, nutrition education, and referrals to health services.

Since the first U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) WIC Infant Feeding Practices Study (IFPS-1) 20 years ago, WIC program recommendations for infant feeding practices have changed markedly, particularly with revisions introduced in 2009 to WIC food packages, as well as adoption of a stronger emphasis on nutrition education and breastfeeding.

The overall purpose of the current (i.e., second) WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study (ITFPS-2) is to conduct a nationally representative, longitudinal study of contemporary WIC infant, toddler, and early childhood feeding practices.

Our Solutions 

  • The Westat team, led by experts in nutrition epidemiology, child development, and economics, recruited a nationally representative sample of more than 4,000 mothers at WIC sites to participate in the study.
  • We collected data from state agencies that administer WIC using key informant interviews, and from WIC staff through a web survey, to determine how WIC sites are delivering services.
  • Specially trained dietary telephone data collectors are interviewing participating mothers in the study up to 17 times, until their child is 5 years old. The interviews include questions about what the child ate the day before the interview; specific feeding practices, such as breastfeeding; social and demographic characteristics; satisfaction with WIC services, including nutrition education and breastfeeding support; child health and growth; and more.
  • We are collecting measurements of the study children’s weight and length from administrative records.
  • This study uses Blaise, a comprehensive commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) survey processing system. It provides integrated multimode support for computer-assisted survey data collection. This includes interviewer-assisted (e.g., computer-assisted personal interviewing [CAPI], computer-assisted telephone interviewing [CATI]) and self-response (e.g., computer-assisted web interviewing [CAWI]) modes across a wide variety of platforms (smartphone, tablet, desktop).

The Results 

  • Westat will prepare 5 final reports (at 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months) that present and interpret the longitudinal data in the only current study of infant and toddler feeding practices in low-income families.
  • This study affirms the USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) 2010 fourth strategic goal: to ensure that all U.S. children have access to safe, nutritious, and balanced meals. Results will be used to inform the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for the 0- to 24-month age group, and to inform WIC program policy.

Our Client 

Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)