Feeding our children is a simple concept that comes with surprising challenges- troubleshooting breastfeeding trials, making overwhelming choices about bottles and baby formula, choosing to spoon feed purees or give intact solids… and the challenges continue into toddlerhood as the child develops strong opinions about eating.
The dietitians at Compleo can help you with mealtime power struggles. For typically developing* toddlers and children, we recommend Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility:
The PARENT is in charge of:
- WHAT foods are “on the menu” and available at each meal/ snack
- WHERE food is eaten
- WHEN meals and snacks happen
The CHILD is in charge of:
- IF they are going to eat
- HOW MUCH they are going to eat
What this means practically:
- A child’s demand for chicken nuggets instead of the spaghetti that mom made would be met with “I’m sorry, but chicken nuggets are not on the menu tonight. I can make them for dinner tomorrow for everyone. If you’re hungry now then you can eat spaghetti”.
- A child’s request for more crackers at snack would be met with “sure, I trust you to know how much your body needs; we also have orange slices available if you want them”.
- This framework would also suggest that there be no rewarding or punishing children for choosing to eat/ not eat their vegetables.
*There are always cases where a generalized framework is not appropriate based on an individual’s health status and situation. For personalized recommendations, book an appointment with one of Compleo’s registered dietitians.
For more information on Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility, visit her website: https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/how-to-feed/the-division-of-responsibility-in-feeding/
Written by: Courtney Anderson, MS, RD, LD, CLC