One of my favorite Ellyn Satter quotes is “when parents do their jobs with feeding, children do their jobs with eating”. It is certainly apparent that infants and toddlers need their parents to play an active role in helping them to form happy relationships with food. But it’s important to remember that older children (even adolescents) still need their parental involvement.
The most predictable thing about toddler eating is that it is unpredictable. Variations in appetite will occur and while there will be days when your toddler only wants to lick, taste, or nibble, there will be other days when the volume of food consumed is unfathomable. Trust that your toddler knows how much to consume at each eating opportunity.
Growing Independent Eaters embraces and utilizes the feeding principles developed by Ellyn Satter. We use them because these principles have been validated through research to improve mealtime experiences in the long-term. And that’s what we want for your child: a life-long, happy, trusting, healthy relationship with food. And that kind of long-term success starts by implementing some really important principles, starting in infancy.
Weaning your child from a feeding tube can be stressful and exhausting for a number of reasons, one being that often, a weaning child can begin to wake up at night, crying for reasons that they can’t quite articulate. And while 3 am is sleepy time – especially for us parents! – there are some good ideas for helping you to get through.
Weaning is a long, hard, and exciting journey for everyone, but is possibly truest for families working to wean their toddlers: children gaining newfound independence in all ways, but especially with food. This independence likely comes with behaviors such as refusal, pickiness, short attention spans at the table, tantrums for no apparent reason, and possible plate throwing.
Stomach bugs, strep, colds, coughs, pneumonia, and flu season – every childhood illness can prove to be quite intense for many families, but perhaps most for those whose children have recently weaned (or are in the process of weaning) from their feeding tubes. So if you fall into that category, and you're navigating the world of sick kids who are mid- or post-wean, we have a few tips that might be helpful.
A safe eating dynamic is one in which no one feels pressured, neither caregivers nor kids. There is room to explore food, to enjoy it, to be heard and respected when you say "no thanks" and when you say "yes, please." In a safe dynamic, your eating is not the focus of people’s attention, and no one is trying to impose any agenda beyond having a relaxed meal.
There is little that is more frustrating than when your child only accepts 5-6 foods – especially when most of those foods don’t contain enough nutrition to function as pillars of a caloric, nutrient-dense diet. But there are ways to help your child to expand his or her repertoire, and one way to do that is to identify foods that are related to the preferred food, and to offer them together.
Mealtime staging is an intentional method of food presentation that takes into account 1)
nutrition, 2) efficiency, and 3) skill development in order to optimize each meal to meet the needs of the child in that moment. So, as we wean, we pay good attention to a child’s eating age (calculated based on the time the child became an oral eater), while remembering that oral motor skills develop over time: kids learn to eat by eating.