Feeding Guidelines

The following feeding guidelines are helpful to all children and their parents, but most importantly to children with feeding difficulties.  Please note that key to children's development of healthy eating habits is the parent's modeling healthy eating for them.

1. Ensure that you have family meals where you model healthy eating behavior for your children.

Family dinners have shown to be critical in helping children overcome their feeding difficulties.

2. Feed your child at regular times and space meals and snacks about 3-4 hours apart.  Do not allow your child to have any snacks, juice, or milk between scheduled meal and snack times.  Offer water if your child gets thirsty.

This will allow your child to experience physiological hunger at mealtimes, and keep him/her from eating just for pleasure or for emotional reasons.

3.. Eat meals and snacks in the kitchen or dining room, and do not allow eating in front of the television or while your child is playing.

Otherwise this will distract your child and he/she will not pay attention to feelings of hunger and fullness.

4. Offer your child small portions and allow him/her to ask for additional helpings until your child feels full and does not want to eat anymore.

This will help your child to learn when he/she is satiated (full).

5. Do not use food as a present, a reward or comfort, or as an expression of your affection.  Do not place emphasis on sweets or "junk" food.  It is recommended to have 2-3 days a week as designated 'dessert/junk days' when you determine what and how much of that special food your child can have.  On dessert/junk day ask your child whether he/she wants to eat that special food first or after the meal.

This will allow your child to learn to eat sweets and "junk" food in moderation and not for emotional reasons.  This approach will make sweets/junk just another food and take away their luster.

6. Do not praise or criticize your child for how much or how little he/she eats.

Eating should not be a performance, but your child should learn to regulate his/her eating internally in accord with feelings of hunger and fullness.

7. Do not use food as a reward, as a special gift, as an expression of your affection, or to calm your child. Do not restrict your child’s food intake and do not withhold food to threaten or punish him/her.

Otherwise, your child will learn to seek food for emotional reasons.