Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Reading Journal: How to Get Your Child to Eat (But Not Too Much)
There is a division of responsibility when it comes to your child's eating.
YOU are responsible for providing meal structure, scheduled meals and snacks, and a nice eating environment. YOU are responsible for selecting what foods are available. Kids have small stomachs and need to eat every 3 or so hours, so plan accordingly.
YOUR CHILD is responsible for choosing if, what, and how much to eat of what is available when it is available.
Never, ever bribe, beg, or cajole your child to eat. Let them choose. Left to their own devices, kids are actually pretty good regulators of their own nutritional intake. (As long as they don't have unfettered access to sugary foods.)
Make sure that you're reasonable in providing some food that your children will eat, particularly for snacks. At mealtimes, Satter recommends putting bread or something similar on the table so that if your child doesn't like anything else being served, he or she can at least fill up on bread.
If you're having dessert, serve it along with the rest of the dinner. Everyone gets just one serving. Usually the kids will eat their dessert first, but upon realizing they are not filled up by dessert, they will eat the other foods too. This prevents overeating in order to get dessert, and then eating dessert on an already-too-full stomach.
It takes a while for kids to get used to a new food. They may have to see it and smell it many times before they'll taste it. They may have to taste it several times before they like it. Allow them to explore without pressure.
I read this book because I got tired of feeding my kids snacks on demand and then watching them pick at their meals. It all makes good sense to me and I'm trying to get better at incorporating the principles and not letting my kids always decide what they're going to eat and when. I wish that I had done this from the very beginning with my boys, though, because bad habits die hard.