Every mama wants the same thing when it comes to mealtime: for her child to joyfully eat a variety of healthy foods. Though the goal is simple, the reality is often a challenge. Nutrition and parenting experts the world over have offered advice on how to encourage children to eat well, each one preaching a different strategy with different rules. Here are our top picks to help you decide which approach is best for your family.
Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter
Widely regarded as the gold-standard manual to guide you through feeding your child “with love and good sense,” Child of Mine covers an array of nutrition topics from breastfeeding, dealing with allergies, and raising adventurous eaters. Ellyn Satter’s approach to the parent-child “division of responsibility” will help you learn to relax at mealtimes and, hopefully, lay the foundation to help your little one enjoy a lifelong healthy relationship with food.
French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon
Part family memoir, part feeding guide, this book tells the story of one American family’s journeys living in France and how the culture changed their mealtimes. Reminiscent of Bringing Up Bébé, French Kids Eat Everything more deeply explores French feeding practices and lays out ten food rules for instilling good habits. The French eschew snacking, for example, and never make a separate meal for the child. It even includes some authentic French recipes… lentil apricot soup, anyone?
Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School by Jill Castle and Maryann Jacobsen
Fearless (as opposed to fearful!) feeding is a simple strategy discussed by Fearless Feeding’s two authors, who are both pediatric nutrition experts. Together they lay out the top ten feeding mistakes made by parents, listed by developmental stage, from infant to teen. A predictable and reliable feeding structure is emphasized, as well as understanding the HOW, WHAT, and WHY of fearless feeding. Co-author Maryanne Jacobsen blogs at Raise Healthy Eaters.
It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating by Dina Rose, PhD
“Stop thinking about nutrition and start thinking about your child’s eating habits instead,” is the theme of the recently-released It’s Not About The Broccoli, written by sociologist, parent educator, and feeding expert Dina Rose. Rose contends that eating well is a learned skill, which can be taught through the three habits of proportion, variety, and moderation. Who knows–parents may learn a thing or two about eating healthier, themselves!
The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat—and Eat Healthy by Elizabeth Pantley
Parenting guru and author Elizabeth Pantley tackles the subject of picky eating in this refreshing read. Pantley reminds parents that picky eating is normal developmental behavior, and encourages them to model the habits they want to instill in their child. The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution also includes a collection of healthy recipes from well-known chefs and nutrition experts for the whole family to enjoy together.
It may take some trial and error to find a method that works for your family. A common theme, however, is the importance of not making mealtimes a power struggle. Negotiation, bribery, and begging have no place at the table. Though this is easier said than done, the consensus seems to be that in the long run, it will pay off.
Photo credit: According to Lara