End Mealtime Battles with the Division of Responsibility in Feeding

The Division of Responsibility in Feeding is a feeding approach developed by Ellyn Satter. Using this approach to feeding your toddler helps make meals less stressful for everyone. It promotes intuitive eating and a trusting feeding relationship.

How do mealtimes feel in your household?


Are they a peaceful gathering, where good food is shared and eaten together while you discuss your day and chat with your little one(s)?

Or is it a constant battle, filled with chaos? Where your toddler won't touch their food and you are either trying to get them to eat something or making a totally separate meal so that they don't go to bed hungry?


In most things related to nutrition and feeding, the steps to success are complex and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach.


However, thanks to the revolutionary dietitian Ellyn Satter the Division of Responsibility in Feeding (sDOR), there is actually a pretty simple strategy to get started making mealtimes more peaceful right away. The best part about it is that it is very easy to communicate the steps to your parenting partner or other caregivers.


Here's how it works:


Your role (as the parent/caregiver) is to decide:

what

where

and when


What

You are responsible for providing regular nutritious meals and snacks that are appropriate for your child.

Be considerate that your child is still learning to eat, without preparing separate meals. Try to include at least one food that your child is comfortable with along with other foods the family enjoys.


Where

Try to eat together, free of distraction, whenever possible. Mealtime manners, a love of food, and courage to try new things are mostly learned by observing others. Model the eating sills you want your child to learn rather than telling them what you want them to do/eat.


When

Toddlers thrive on routine and having an established but flexible meal and snack schedule can set them up for eating success.

Try to avoid snacks and grazing between meals. This can help avoid hangry toddlers and constant requests for snacks!



Your Child's Role

Your child's role is to decide if and how much they want to eat of the food you have offered.

Trust that they know how much their bodies need.

Pressuring your child to eat and stepping into your child's role will backfire and can make picky eating worse.

And mealtime battles aren't worth it, especially right now.


When you are first starting to implement the division of responsibility of feeding in your household, make sure everyone is on board. It can help to write the roles down "parents: when, where, what - child: if, how much" on a sticky note next to the table as a reminder.


For more support with implementing the division of responsibility, ending (or preventing) mealtime battles and raising a child with a healthy relationship with food and eating, join the Your Nourished Toddler program here.

Pediatric Registered Dietitian

Baby & Toddler Nutrition

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