When I ask parents about their concerns regarding their child’s eating, they often reply with ‘they won’t try new foods’. They will often add ‘ they used to like it ( broccoli, meat…) but have stopped eating it’. This is perfectly normal.Many babies will eat whatever you offer them, just to satisfy their hunger. As they become older babies and then toddler, they are beginning to find their way in the world. They want more control and independence and their taste is becoming more discerning. Applying the principles of Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility is going to meet their needs and let you do your job as a parent. However there is no place for pressure in feeding, only neutral exposure. This means that you put the food on the table and leave it up to your child to decide whether they are going to touch, smell, taste or eat the food. If you are trying to ‘get your child to eat’, you are probably using pressure.
The thing is that pressure never works. If you try and get your child to eat more, they often eat less, if you try and get them to eat less, they will eat more, if you try and get them to eat vegetables they are less likely to eat them.
No pressure means:
- Not talking about the food – no positive comments, praising, rewarding eating with stickers, clapping or hugs
- No bribing, coaxing, threatening, preparing special foods, withholding dessert, forcing, warning that he will be hungry if he doesn’t eat
- No hiding vegetables in other foods, distracting while you spoon in the food, insisting on ‘just three more bites’
Instead, put the family meal on the table and let your child decide what and how much to eat.