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. In order to help your child to feel hungry, feed him/her at regular times and space meals and snacks 3-4 hours apart.

Do not allow your child to have any snacks, juice, or milk between scheduled meal and snack times.  If your child gets thirsty, offer only water.

3. Serve only small portions and allow for second, third and fourth helpings.  This will help your child feel engaged in the eating process and not become bored or overwhelmed by large amounts of food.

Most importantly it will help your child to learn to eat until full.

4. Teach your child to sit at the table until “Mommy’s and Daddy’s tummies are full”.  

Children do not learn to eat until full unless they learn to sit at the table long enough to eat until fullness.  

5. Meals should last no longer than 20 to 30 minutes, even if your child has eaten very little or nothing.  Your child will learn to make up for the minimal food intake at the next meal or next day.

6. Praise your child for self-feeding skills, but keep a neutral attitude about your child's food intake.

Do not praise or criticize your child for how much or how little he/she eats.  Your child’s eating is not a performance, but should be regulated internally by his/her physiological needs.

7. Do not allow any distractions (e.g., toys, books, television) during meals or snack. 

When distracted, children do not pay attention to their inner signals of hunger and fullness.

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

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

9. Discourage your child from playing with food or talking too much instead of eating during mealtime.  Have a special play or talking time after the meal.

10. If your child gets up from the chair, throws food or feeding utensils, or misbehaves in other ways, give him/her ONE warning.  If he/she does not stop the behavior, give a “time-out.”