When you have a child you have to start thinking about the best way to feed your child. And getting it right from the start will stand you in good stead for the future. Understanding your role as a parent in the feeding process will make meal times easier, relaxed and more fun. I recently came across Ellyn Satter’s work and she explains the feeding roles of the parent and child really well. Here’s a quick summary for you.
THE PARENT is responsible for
- What your child eats. You choose the meals you cook and serve and can ensure your child has a balanced and varied diet.
- When your child eats. Setting routine meal times is important to make sure your little one does not go hungry and their energy levels remain topped up. Having meals together with the family is great because then your little one can watch you eat..
- Where you child eats. Meals are best at a table and together with the family.
THE CHILD is responsible for
- How much they eat. You have to trust your child and that they know when they have had enough. Research indicates that children have very good satiation and hunger cues. Let them listen to their internal cues and stop when they have had enough
- Whether they eat. Remember when your parents’ asked you to eat up? I am sure it didn’t make you want to eat. There will be some days your child does not feel like eating. Respect this wish and your child will respond positively when they want to eat.
These roles apply to solid food as well as any milk feeds you give your child.
TOP TIP: You can make meals a positive experience if you provide balanced meals at the right time and place but respect your child’s right to choose how much they eat.