– Feeding roles ensure your child establishes a healthy relationship with food and learns to enjoy a variety of foods.
On this Page:
↓ What are Feeding Roles?
↓ The Parent’s Role
↓ The Baby’s Role
↓ When They Take Over Our Feeding Role
↓ When We Take Over Their Feeding Role
Feeding roles refer to which parts of feeding you and your child are responsible for. Neither you nor your child should have any say on the others role. The most important thing we can do is stick to our feeding roles to ensure your child grows up:
- Eating the right amount of food
- Eating a variety of healthy food
- Having a good relationship with food
Deciding WHAT your baby eats.
Before babies start solid food they are in charge of when they’re fed. However, when baby starts solid food they are moving (with your help) to having structured meals and eating family food. WHEN and WHERE babies eat also starts becoming up to you. You are always in charge of WHAT bubs are fed, either breast or formula milk and then which solids babies are served.
The baby’s role is to decide WHETHER and HOW MUCH to eat. If we try and control their eating by getting them to eat more or less, we interfere with our baby’s ability to get to know their hunger and fullness signals. Your baby is responsible for:
- Eating as little or as much as they want
- Learning to eat the food their parents eat
- Learning to behave well at mealtimes
Infants can’t talk at this age, but they will give you very clear signs when they are hungry or full. Your bubs role of deciding whether to eat and how much to eat is the same for when they become a toddler and will continue right through into their teenage years.
If your baby starts controlling WHEN and WHAT they eat, over time their eating will become continuous, unpredictable and their diet may well become full of nuggets, chips, and soft drinks! You are the best person to decide the foods for them to eat and you may become their servant, preparing separate foods and mealtimes at their request. Don’t give in. They need to learn to eat what we eat. You and your baby will be thankful for it.
Taking over your baby’s job by either pressuring or restricting their eating can have the opposite effect on what we want to achieve. We can run into both short and long term problems such as:
- Greater stress at meals (for you and them)
- Becoming a fussy eater
- Losing the ability to know when they are full
- Increasing the likelihood of being overweight
- Eating less variety of food
- Eating a less nutritious diet
You may not notice your baby’s progress in learning their role immediately, but rest assured, they will be travelling forward slowly as they get their skills and courage up. This is providing that you do your (and stick to only your) feeding role.
- When feeding baby hold the spoon a near the front of their mouth and let the decision to come forward and eat be theirs
- Don’t play games to try and get them to eat, they will eat if they need the food
- Don’t dump the food on the tongue
- Don’t scrape the food off the gums or lips
- Don’t follow them with the spoon when they are trying to avoid it
- Don’t prompt to eat or show disapproval when they don’t
- Read the signs that they have had enough
- After serving up the food don’t prompt or show disapproval
- Stop the feeding of the meal when you can tell they are done eating.
Keep calm! If they don’t eat and you feel they should, then be comforted by the knowledge that they are not eating because they don’t want to or need to.
Trust their tummies, they know how much to eat, they know it much better than you!