This post was written by one of our volunteers, Larissa Stanley.

10-month-old Ella’s parents had spent the last hour making supper. They had previously decided that supper would be served at 6pm every night and they were sitting down right on time. Ella’s high chair was free of all toys and distractions. 

She had not eaten at supper all week but they were hopeful with this meal, as she had eaten the same meal the previous week. 

Despite their careful planning, she refuses to take a single bite of this meal and throws the majority of the meal on the floor. 

What would you do in this situation?

  • Grab yogurt from the fridge. Ella had eaten this for breakfast, so it would be easy to grab and get her to eat it. 
  • Play airplane to get her to open her mouth and spoon feed her. 
  • Stop and Consider the Division of Responsibilities. You can read the previous blog post for more information on the basics of Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibilities (DOR). 

Remember that when it comes to feeding your child and following the DOR: 

You are responsible for WHAT, WHEN and WHERE.

And your child is responsible for IF they eat and HOW MUCH.

It can be nerve-wracking when your little one isn’t eating; however, if we consider the DOR, Ella’s parents were following their responsibility for:

WHAT – a balanced homemade meal with a variety of foods offered

WHEN – dinner at 6pm each night. 

WHERE – in her high chair at the table, free of any distractions. 

Their job was done the moment they sat down at the table. Ella decided IF and HOW MUCH she would eat. At such a young age, exposure to new textures and foods while learning to have a healthy and positive relationship with food is much more important for children than what they eat at one meal. 

If we consider what would happen if we did the other options: 

Playing airplane with Ella can lead to two unintended problems:

  • Overriding their natural self-regulation abilities. 
  • Mealtime struggles between the child and parents – Being tricked into eating may make children upset and dislike mealtimes in a time where we want them to develop positive attitudes towards eating.

Grabbing yogurt from the fridge could lead to children expecting food they enjoy more when they refuse others. We will discuss this more in the next post!

Ultimately, trust that if you follow the DOR and do your job while letting your child do theirs, you will be raising a healthy eater.

The DOR can work well in many scenarios and guidance from a dietitian can help with implementing these principles. Contact Calgary Family Nutrition today to speak to a dietitian about using the DOR in your family.