Family Spirit Nurture—Preventing Early Childhood Obesity

Diabetes & Obesity Prevention, Early Childhood Development, Parenting

Family Spirit Nurture:

  • Provides support for exclusive breastfeeding, and delaying the introduction of solid foods until the child is 6 months of age
  • Promotes responsive feeding, including recognizing hunger and satiety cues
  • Promotes the creation of safe play spaces for infants and toddlers in the home
  • Provides psychosocial support and activities to help reduce stress, depression, and substance abuse among new mothers

Preventing Early Childhood Obesity: Evaluating Family Spirit Nurture 3-6 months 
The Preventing Early Childhood Obesity (PECO) research studies are evaluating the impact of the Family Spirit Nurture lessons on mothers and babies. A pilot study of a brief 6-lesson curriculum taught between 3-6 months postpartum was conducted in Shiprock, New Mexico (Navajo Nation) with 133 mothers and their babies. Findings showed that the 6-lesson Family Spirit Nurture module promotes healthy infant feeding and growth in the first year of life and reduces early childhood obesity risk (JAMA Pediatrics, November 2020). The lessons focus on moderating sugar intake, best infant responsive feeding practices, and healthy eating for the whole family.

Preventing Early Childhood Obesity: Evaluating Family Spirit Nurture Pregnancy-18 months
A randomized trial of a full Family Spirit Nurture curriculum delivered between pregnancy – 18 months postpartum is being implemented with over 250 expectant mothers ages 14-22 in Shiprock, NM, Gallup, NM, and Whiteriver, AZ. Support for this component is being provided through a 5-year National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant. 

As Family Spirit Nurture is proven to be effective, we will also be able to scale it to the 130+ communities  already using Family Spirit.  

To contact Family Spirit, email

Photo by Ed Cunicelli

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