As Mums of a feeding brand, we're often asked about how to raise children with healthy appetites and a good relationship with food'. The most common issues we hear from parents are:
- My child eats too little
- My child eats too much
- My child will only eat certain foods
- My child won't eat any fruit or vegetables
- My child takes so long to eat and every mealtime is a battle
We wanted to share this article from the Ellyn Satter Institute on the Division of Responsibility. Broken down very simply, Satter states that the parent or caregiver should be responsible for what, where and when a child eats. The child is responsible for how much or whether to eat their meal.
This has made mealtimes completely different at home. Instead of begging the children to finish what's on their plate, I just ask them what they've done today. Instead of asking them to try everything once, I ask them if they're finished. We're not perfect and manners need to be improved which is what we've been focusing on with family meals.
The Division of Responsibility doesn't mean we're off the hook. There are still so many simple things we can do to help our children build healthy appetites and enjoy food.
For parents with children who won't try new foods, the suggested method of following the division of responsibility is to ensure that you offer your child at least 2 out of 3 things you know they like. For introducing new foods - here are a few of our successful tried and tested methods:
1. Involve your child in the process of cooking or preparing food when it's safe to do so. Talk about where the food comes from and study a food for shape, colour and texture. Oftentimes, food refusal is due to fear and anxiety surrounding something new.
2. If your child refuses to try a new food - do not make a big deal out of it. This is attention and they'll soon learn that by saying no, you'll ask them over and over again and all the focus will be on them.
3. Make mealtimes less stressful by investing in a section plate. Children like to know they have control over something. By separating their food into sections, you are giving them control back as to whether to mix it together or eat it separately.
4. Show them that you enjoy eating certain foods. I've managed to trick my children into thinking if I dive into the fridge and sneak a lettuce leave, then I'm having some kind of treat. They often ask me for lettuce when they are having a snack now. Children are brilliant imitators.
5. Don't get disheartened. FUN FACT. Tastebuds expire and regenerate every two weeks or so. This slows down when we reach around 40. And as adults we can teach our bodies to enjoy a certain taste. If your child refuses a food one week, try to offer it to them the subsequent week.
Pictured is our eco rascals bamboo toddler plate with three sections. A perfect plate to make mealtimes less stressful.