Child of Mine, Feeding with Love and Good Sense, by Ellyn Satter, MS, RD, CICSW, BCD, should be on every parent’s bookshelf from the very start of parenthood. It is by far the best resource I have had while learning how to feed my children.
I believe it is our job as parents to raise our children to be competent eaters, and to have a strong, healthy relationship with food. In today’s society, it is becoming increasingly harder to do this because of the abundant, and often negative and unhelpful information that is available. Another challenge parents are faced with is the pressure and desire to raise children that are of a healthy weight. Ellyn talks specifically about this in her book. I love how Ellyn Satter takes pressure off of the parent in respect to this, and forces us as parents to trust our child’s intuitive ability to know how much to eat, when raised in the right environment, where they are not over, or under-controlled with respects to food.
Ellyn Satter is well-known for her division of responsibility in feeding, which states Parents are responsible for what, when, and where of feeding; children are responsible for how much, and whether of eating. In other words, parents are responsible for what food they serve, when and where they serve it; children are responsible for how much of that food they eat, and whether they eat any of it at all. Trouble with feeding occurs when parents try to take over the child’s responsibilities of eating, like trying to get their child to eat certain types of food, or certain amounts of food. Trouble also presents when parents don’t fulfill their own responsibility, such as not providing consistent, age-appropriate foods in a pleasant manner.
Child of Mine Tips
In Child of Mine, Ellyn walks parents through each stage of feeding, from infancy to preschool, and guides parents on how to create an environment of feeding where both the child and parent are happy, content, and at ease. She also provides benchmarks regarding eating attitudes and behaviors that our child should be able to display at each stage of feeding.
For example, by the time our child is a preschooler, she:
• is positive about eating
• relies on internal cues of hunger and fullness to know how much to eat
• has variation in appetite to know what to eat
• enjoys many different foods
• tries new foods and learn to like them
• politely turns down or ignore foods she doesn’t want to eat
• can “make do” with less-than-favorite food
More Tips from Child of Mine
Ellyn also helps parents recognize their own relationships with food and weight that could be affecting how they feed their child. We as parents should never bribe our children to do something by offering them food in return. We should never force our child to eat, or punish them if they do not eat. It is important to maintain a positive attitude around food and feeding as we parent our child. If a child wants to eat her French fries before her broccoli, she should be allowed to do this.
I love this book, and would recommend this to any parent. It has been such a valuable tool for me in raising my children and allowing them to feel happy, calm and confident in their eating, something that we as adults seem to lose along the way.
If your child is a “picky eater”, you may benefit from some personalized nutrition counseling from our team of registered dietitians. Contact us at [email protected].
Blog reviewed and updated March 2020.