Division of Responsibility in Feeding

Ellyn Satter
September 1, 2009

Parents provide structure, support and opportunities. Children choose how much and whether to eat from what the parents provide.

The Division of Responsibility for Infants:

  • The parent is responsible for what
  • The child is responsible for how much (and everything else)

The parent helps the infant to be calm and organized and feeds smoothly, paying attention to information coming from the baby about timing, tempo, frequency and amounts

The Division of Responsibility For Toddlers through Adolescents:

  • The parent is responsible for what, when, where
  • The child is responsible for how much and whether

Parents' Feeding Jobs:

  • Choose and prepare the food
  • Provide regular meals and snacks
  • Make eating times pleasant
  • Show children what they have to learn about food and mealtime behavior
  • Not let children graze for food or beverages between meal and snack times
  • Let children grow up to get bodies that are right for them

Fundamental to parents' jobs is trusting children to decide how much and whether to eat. If parents do their jobs with feeding, children will do their jobs with eating:

  • Children will eat
  • They will eat the amount they need
  • They will learn to eat the food their parents eat
  • They will grow predictably
  • They will learn to behave well at the table


For more information, visit Ellyn Satter's Facebook page.

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    Would you like to meet Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson, Sara Moulton, or Cat Cora!? And do you have a healthy recipe you would like to share with people? You should join the Aetna Healthy Food Fight at healthyfoodfight.com . The contest is coming to Cleveland! on September 11-12, but the deadline to sign up is September 8th. Good luck to all who decide to enter!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 2

    I have a 4 year old that only eats white rice, french fries, cheese, some fruits, milk, and orange juice since she turned two. Before that she would eat everything you gave her. But now I can't even try to force her. At school, she don't eat at all. I hope it changes with time.

    over a year ago


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