BACKGROUND: Prevalent environmental risk factors place infants in lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) at an increased risk for feeding and developmental difficulties.
AIM: This study aimed to determine the relationship between feeding and developmental outcomes in infants, as early feeding difficulties may have a cascading effect on developmental outcomes and vice versa.
METHODS: Data on 144 infants’ feeding and development [mean age (standard deviation) = 8.8 months (2.2)] from a primary health care clinic in Gauteng, South Africa were retrospectively analysed.
RESULTS: Early introduction of cup feeding was found to be a predictor of possible expressive language and articulation difficulties. Gagging, spitting, or vomiting, pocketing, the use of force feeding, and poor sucking and chewing abilities were significantly associated with behavioural and social–emotional difficulties. Breastfeeding was found to be a protective factor for language development. The results emphasise the importance of primary prevention and early identification of risks in late infancy in LMIC.