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Feeding Infants Solid FoodsJust as you are beginning to emerge from that “new mom exhaustion coma”, a new topic to research comes up – solid foods for your baby!  I found this time period overwhelming at first, however gaining knowledge and experience helped decrease the stress and increase the fun part of that exciting time! 

Everyone has advice to share and enjoys trying to help out with a new baby!  Take all of this advice and information you read, and just try what you agree with because you know your baby best!

I would like to share some of the most helpful information I learned:


1 - When you start feeding your baby solid foods, they are still getting the nutrition they need from either breast milk or formula.

The primary goal in the beginning is for your baby to learn how to eat, so don’t worry if it seems like your baby is only “eating” a small amount.  As your baby’s skills improve, they will be able to eat more. 


2 - It can take 10-15 exposures to a food for a baby to accept it.

I remember making seriously delicious, homemade baby food (in addition to whatever meal for my family) and having it be passionately rejected by my little one many times!  I had to develop a little bit of a thicker skin with all of this rejection!  I had some doubt about the multiple exposure theory, but with my kids it actually rang true (and still does!).  I just keep trying foods and I have seen many preference changes with my kids both in the baby and later stages! 


3 - Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding (stage and age appropriate feeding guidelines for the parent verses the child).

I first learned about Ellyn Satter in my nutrition program (well before having kids).  She is a Registered Dietitian and Family Therapist, and an internationally recognized authority on eating and feeding.  Her well-researched and highly regarded information has been priceless in my feeding experience with my children, and has had a similar effect on countless other families.  I have given Ellyn’s book, Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, to many friends and I recommend it for any new parent. 

Following is a summary of Ellyn Satter's “Division of Responsibility in Feeding”. This article and more can be found at:


Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility in Feeding

  • For a PDF of Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility in Feeding, click here
  • For a PDF of  Ellyn Satter’s División de la Responsabilidad al Alimentar (DOR in Spanish), click here.

Children develop eating competence step-by-step throughout the growing-up years when they are fed according to a stage-appropriate division of responsibility. At every stage, parents take leadership with feeding and let the child be self-directed with eating.


The division of responsibility for infants:

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

Parents choose breast- or formula- feeding, help the infant be calm and organized, then feed smoothly, paying attention to information coming from the baby about timing, tempo, frequency, and amounts.


The division of responsibility for older babies making the transition to family food

  • The parent is still responsible for what, and is becoming responsible for when and where the child is fed.
  • The child is still and always responsible for how much and whether to eat the foods offered by the parent.

Based on what the child can do, not on how old s/he is, parents guide the child’s transition from nipple feeding through semi-solids, then thick-and-lumpy food, to finger food at family meals. 


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

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


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
  • Be considerate of children’s food inexperience without catering to likes and dislikes
  • Not let children have food or beverages (except for water) between meal and snack times
  • Let children grow up to get bodies that are right for them


Children's eating jobs:

  • 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 mealtime


For more about feeding, see Ellyn Satter’s Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense.

To join Ellyn Satter on Facebook, click here.

To sign up for the Family Meals Focus Newsletter, click here.

©2014 by Ellyn Satter published at

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