Creating a supportive and age-appropriate feeding environment is important for helping children develop healthy eating habits. Caregivers create healthy feeding relationships by providing structure and consistency around eating including regularly scheduled meals and snacks. Limit setting also helps children develop good habits when caregivers are in charge of what and where children eat. This includes turning off the TV during meals, most importantly, caregivers who create healthy feeding relationships balance rules and expectations with being responsive to whether and how much children want to eat.
When feeding styles lose this balance they can become overly controlling or indulgent and can lead children to pay less attention to their own hunger and fullness.
Let’s learn more about different styles of feeding and their effects of children’s eating in the "Smart Start" video below.
Children have the ability to know when they have eaten enough. But children cannot become healthy eaters on their own. Children are born with hard-wired preferences for sweet and energy-rich tastes. For most other foods, preferences are learned through positive experiences around eating. Children depend on caregivers to provide healthy eating environments and feeding relationships that cultivate healthy eating habits.