Pediatric Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child to Eat Well
Pediatric Healthy Eating: Parent & Child Feeding Roles
Ellyn Satter is a world renowned expert on childhood feeding behaviors and eating habits. This handout is based on her book “Division of Responsibility in Feeding”. Its purpose is to help parents and children figure out their roles when it comes to meal times to promote happy healthy families and homes.
Parents’ or Caregivers’ Roles
What food is offered
- The parent or caregiver is responsible for the food that is available in the home. Buy, make, and offer a variety of foods that fit into your budget.
- Serve new foods at the same meal with familiar foods. For example: serve asparagus with a cheeseburger.
- Always serve a favorite food such as fruit, bread or milk that children can fill-up on if they choose nothing else.
- Avoid serving only “kid foods” and being a “short-order” cook.
- Give kids foods that are age-appropriate and easy to eat. For example, many young kids don’t like beef and chicken because it is hard to cut and chew. Serving it with a sauce or ground might make it easier for them to eat.
- Understand that kids are often afraid of the unknown. They may need to be offered a food 20 times before they are willing to try it.
- Try to schedule regular meals and snacks for kids. Most kids need to eat every 3-4 hours.
- Avoid letting kids graze all day as this can lead to a poor appetite at meal times.
- Limit drinks such as milk or juice to meal and snack time. When kids sip on liquids throughout the day, they fill up and are not hungry at meals.
- Provide a relaxed, happy area for meals, preferably at the kitchen table.
- Try to eat with the children.
- Limit distractions including TV, radio, phones, and pets.
How much to eat
- Children eat as much as they are hungry for at any one time. They are born with the ability to listen to their appetite.
- Avoid making kids become members of the clean plate club.
- If the kids are old enough, allow them to serve themselves.
- Some days kids are hungry and some days they are not. If kids do not eat at a certain meal, it is fine. Food will come at the next meal or snack time.
- Trust that most kids will eat enough to grow. If a child is made to eat when not hungry, he or she loses the power to listen to appetite.
For more information, check for books by Ellyn Satter
- Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming
- Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense
- Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family
- How to Get Your Kid to Eat…But Not Too Much.
You can also check out her website at http://www.ellynsatter.com
If you would like to make an appointment or are a UW Health patient with more questions please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below.
2880 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
UW Health West Clinic
451 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717
UW Health East Clinic
5249 East Terrace Drive
Madison, WI 53718
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/06/2012
Copyright © 03/16/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#364
Print Health Fact For You