Don’t Feed Your Child

Don’t Feed Your Child

Mindful parents don’t feed infants and children, we let them eat. When I visualize a parent feeding a child I see a parent spooning food into a child’s mouth. This parent seems determined to get a certain amount of food and a certain type of food into the child. They may resort to distraction, rewards, or punishment to accomplish their goal—getting the child to eat.

A mindful parent offers food to an infant or child. This parent also chooses one or two foods to offer, but they have no agenda about the amount of food that needs to be consumed. It is not thel parent’s job to get the child to eat. This parent follows the child’s tempo, offering a new spoonful when the child has finished chewing (look at the jaw moving) and opens his or her mouth for more. If the child is self feeding, the parent sits back and observes, or eats their own meal.

A mindful parent lets the child explore the food with touch, taste and smell. The child is allowed to eat as little or as much as they wish. Observation of a child will tell us when an infant or child is finished. A rejected food can be offered again at another time, but it is not forced on the child, not even a small taste. In this way we allow our children to maintain their ability to react to their own nutritional needs. This is how we create healthy eaters.

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