I get this question a lot in my practice. Parents often work so hard to encourage their child to eat more out of fear that they aren’t taking in enough. It can be stressful when it seems like the amount your child eats is very different from the amount you think they need. Ellyn Satter has taught us that regardless of how hard we try to get our children to eat, in the end, it is their job to decide whether and how much to eat from what we provide.
Your logical next question is probably, “What happens if my child chooses not to eat (or chooses to eat very little of) what we provide?” Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. It is normal for a child’s intake to vary widely from one meal to the next and even one day to the next. Instead, we look at the overall average from day-to-day or week-to-week.
2. The only way to REALLY know if your child is eating enough is to track their growth chart. If your pediatrician and/or registered dietitian is not concerned about growth, then your child has proven that they can effectively listen to their hunger and fullness cues.
3. If your child is growing well but struggles with eating at certain meals, then practice the “KITCHEN IS CLOSED” approach. This means you should make sure they are hungry when coming to the table by limiting all food and caloric drinks (milk, juice, etc.) within 1-2 hours of the next meal.
If you still have concerns about your child’s eating after reading this blog post, please reach out to me to set up an individual appointment!