WSU Whatcom County Extension

Family & Community Health

WSU Whatcom County Extension        

Food Parenting


Feeding children can be a challenging task and the way in which parents approach feeding can make a big difference.  Parents have many questions.  How much is enough for my child?  What if he or she refuses to eat what I prepare?  How I can I make mealtimes work for my family? 

Some useful tips for parents and caregivers:

    • Be clear about the feeding relationship.  The parent’s job to provide structure for eating.  In simple terms, the parent decides what, when, and where food will be served.  This is true for toddlers through adolescents when the children are in the home.  The situation changes when children are in school and some need more supervision than others when it comes to what food they will eat when they are away from home.  Children with allergies, sensitivities and medical conditions require more care in feeding.  The child’s job is to decide whether they will eat and how much.
    • A sensible portion is one tablespoon per year of age up to the recommended serving sizes.    Young children do not need much.
    • Regularity and predictability at meal times is good for everyone. 
    • Children can serve themselves and know how much they want to eat. Encourage self serving as early and as often as possible.
    • Avoid mealtime arguments and battles.


Some resources that may help you are:
Ms. Satter is a renowned author and teacher and has a number of excellent free resources covering topics about feeding, eating and family meals.

The United State Department of Agriculture in cooperation with other government agencies has created wonderful resources that can be found at Choose My Plate.  The site is full of information that covers nutrition, exercise, and other health related topics.  There is an excellent section for parents and caregivers of preschoolers that covers many questions about health and nutrition for preschoolers.  There is an excellent section on picky eaters that many adults will find helpful.





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WSU Whatcom County Extension • 1000 N. Forest St., Bellingham, WA 98225 • (360) 778-5800 •