Home => Newsletters => February 25, 2009 • Family Meals Focus #34 • Toddler feeding: Relapse
February 25, 2009
FAMILY MEALS FOCUS #34
Interpreting the news and research about feeding and eating
Earlier gains in feeding can get lost as parents navigate the toddler stage. Esther�s weight was only in the 5th to 10th percentile at her last doctor visit, down from the 25th percentile earlier. The pediatrician wasn�t concerned, but her parents were trying to fatten her up by getting her to eat high-fat food. I worried that their ''trying to fatten her up'' would create a struggle around feeding: Esther would pick up on their anxiety about getting�her to eat and jerk them around. Mealtimes would become a trial instead of a joy, and everyone would suffer.
I was concerned about her weight faltering, as it could be a sign of problems with feeding. What went wrong? Esther had been an enthusiastic eater who was rewarding for her parents to feed. She had readily accepted semi-solid foods and demanded more and more, almost from the first. By eight months she was eating table food and they were taking great delight in feeding her.
I had a hunch I knew. Had the parents perhaps fallen into the pattern of letting her have drinks (except for water) whenever she wanted them? Yes, and there was more. ''We are structured with our breakfast, lunch and dinner. I try to give her a variety of foods at each meal and never push food. Snacks are generally much looser, I give her a tippy cup of milk and one of those snack traps filled with Cheerios and crackers and let her carry it around with her and eat it.'' Having said that, Esther�s mother had her own answer: ''That must be the problem:�too much grazing and filling up in between. I will work on structuring her snacks more.''
To the uninitiated, a snack trap is a plastic cup with a reach-through, self-closing lid. Like the tippy cup, it cuts down on mess. However, also like the tippy cup, it gets in the way of the child�s growing up with eating. It lends itself to abuse.
Where do parents get the idea that toddlers need to be allowed unceasing access to food? From a series of unfortunate events!
Esther�s parents stopped letting her graze for food, and her appetite at mealtime improved. ''We had tacos last night, and all sat down to the table to enjoy them. Esther went after the shredded cheese like there was no tomorrow, but she just stared at shredded lettuce it like it was the strangest thing. It was fun.''
FMF # 35 Toddler feeding: The child who ''can't get filled up''
Copyright � 2009 by Ellyn Satter. Published at www.EllynSatter.com.
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DISCLAIMER: The information contained in Family Meals Focus is intended to inform our readers about issues relating to feeding dynamics in general and family meals in particular. It is not intended to replace specific advice from a health care professional. Copyright 2008 Ellyn Satter
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