Food security (FS) during infancy is associated with lifelong outcomes. New Zealand is a developed economy that reports poor childhood nutrition-related health statistics, particularly among minority children, yet has no measure of FS applicable to infancy. The objective was to develop an FS index for New Zealand infants and examine its association with demographic covariates and health outcomes. Within a large (n
= 6853) nationally representative cohort, variables describing infant food consumption, breastfeeding, and maternal food-related coping methods were collected from mothers during late infancy. An FS index was derived using confirmatory factor analysis. Associations were assessed by logistic regressions and described using odds ratios (OR) and ≥95% confidence intervals (CI). Fifteen percent of the cohort was highly FS, 43% tenuously food insecure (FIS), and 16% highly food insecure (FIS). Infants from minority ethnic groups had lower odds of being food secure, as did those born to the youngest mothers, mothers who smoked, or those who lived in low-income households. FIS infants had higher odds of morbidity. Interventions to improve infant FS should focus on improving dietary quality, and should give particular consideration to minority infants. We identified that FIS shows wide ethnic and socioeconomic inequity, and is associated with poorer health. The most important driving factors of FIS included poor quality weaning diets, as well as poverty and its proxies. Any interventions to improve infant FS should focus on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to recommended intake levels, and should give particular consideration to minority infants.
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