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Feeding Your Child Using Division of Responsibility

Topic Overview

The division of responsibility is a way of feeding your child that takes the battle out of meal times.

  • From birth until your child is between 6 months and 1 year old, you are responsible for what your child eats, and your child is responsible for how much and how often he or she eats. (Infants are fed on demand.)
  • As your child starts eating solid foods, you become responsible for what, when, and where your child eats, and your child is responsible for how much is eaten, and even whether he or she eats.
How you and your child decide on food
Child's age Your responsibility Your child's responsibility
0 to 12 months

What

How much

When (how often)

1 year and older

What

When (how often)

Where

How much

Whether

Infants are born with an internal hunger gauge that tells them when they're hungry and when they're full. When we try to control how much children eat, we interfere with this natural ability. Using the division of responsibility helps your child stay in touch with those internal cues.

Responsibility changes as your child grows. By the time your child is about 1 year of age, you become responsible for when your child eats by providing routine meals and snacks. You also decide where your child eats, ideally at home, at a table for as many family meals as possible. Doing this lays a foundation for the decisions your child will make when he or she has more freedom to decide what, where, and when to eat.

It helps for you to be a good role model. Your own eating and lifestyle choices are a powerful teaching tool. Your child sees the choices you make and follows your example.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last Revised July 31, 2013

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