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Caregiver's Role in Feeding

Caregivers of a child, whether it’s a parent, nanny, teacher, or babysitter plays an important role in a child’s eating. The caregivers oversee how the child eats across different environments, what they eat, and how they react to mealtimes. Caregivers are an important consideration when it comes to developing a treatment plan for any child that is being seen for feeding therapy. Since caregivers play a huge role in eating and feeding, it can also provide a positive or negative impact on the child. The impact can depend on the child, whether they will be willing to explore or expand their food repertoire.

Tips to ensure a positive feeding experience:

  • The caregiver chooses what, when, and where they are feeding

    • Caregiver does not force the child to eat any foods they present

    • Caregiver creates a consistent mealtime and snack schedule

    • Caregiver demonstrates good behavior

    • Ensure the child is not snacking throughout the day preventing hunger when mealtime comes

  • The child chooses how much, and whether they are eating or not

    • Child determines how to eat

    • Child determines how much they will eat

    • Child will watch their caregivers eat

    • Child will watch how their caregivers behave at the table

  • Provide offers not demands

    • An offer is when you provide the ability for the child to accept or reject any foods presented

    • An offer provides the child with a sense of control

    • A demand is when the child is forced to do something they may not be ready for

    • A demand creates PRESSURE!

Children are usually really good with listening to their bodies. Children will know when they are hungry, when they are full and it is important to allow children to listen to these internal cues (Healthwise Staff, 2021). The internal cues are signals of what the body needs! The division of responsibility allows the child to listen to their internal cues fully without the interference of their caregiver(s).


Healthwise Staff. (2021, September 20). Feeding your child using division of responsibility.

MyHealth Alberta.


Klein, M. D. (2019, November 8). Anxious eaters, anxious mealtimes: Practical and

compassionate strategies for mealtime peace. Archway Publishing.

Satter, E. (2015). Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility in feeding. Ellyn Satter Institute.


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