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Nurturing Healthy Relationships with Food


Establishing a positive feeding relationship during infancy can have lifetime benefits. According to registered dietitian and child feeding expert Ellyn Satter, the key to a healthy feeding relationship is the appropriate division of responsibility.


Adult Responsibilities

  • Adults are responsible for what food is present and how it is presented.

  • Choose foods that are the right texture so your baby's tongue and mouth can control it and swallow easily.

  • Hold your baby on your lap when you first introduce solid foods. Then move your baby to a safe high chair.

  • Support your baby well in an upright position so he or she can easily explore the food as much as desired.

  • Have your baby sit up straight and face forward. This makes swallowing easier and choking less likely.

  • Talk in a quiet, encouraging voice while you feed. There’s no need to be entertaining. Babies are easily overwhelmed and distracted with games.


Child Responsibilities

  • Children are responsible for how much and whether they eat.

  • Wait for your baby to pay attention to each spoonful before you feed it.

  • Let your baby touch the food in the dish and on the spoon. You wouldn't want to eat something if you didn't know anything about it, would you?

  • Feed at your baby's tempo. Don't make your baby eat faster or slower than he or she wants.

  • Allow your baby to self-feed with finger foods as soon as he or she shows an interest in touching or holding them.

  • Stop feeding when your baby shows you cues that he or she is done. Often, your baby will do this by turning his or her head away from you.

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