Kids Eating Habits

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

Trying New Foods

An important part of childhood development is trying new things. If a child does not want to eat something when they haven’t even tried it, model it for them. Put the food to your mouth and encourage them to mirror. Do not force them if there is strong resistance. The more you resist them, the more they will resist you. We do not want to associate a negative experience around trying new things. Ultimately they have autonomy over their own choices, but keep encouraging them to try it by saying things like:

“Mmm this is good. If you try it you may like it, too!”

“It’s important to try new things”

“It’s safe to try this.”

“We made this together, don’t you want to try what you’ve created?”

“How will you know if you like it or don’t like it until you try it?”

“Try it, you’ll like it! And if you don’t you can spit it out and toss the rest”


Trust the child that their bodies will let them know when they are hungry or full. Some children need more food than others. We don’t actually know what their bodies need until we have them feel it. They are the ones carrying their own sensations; do not impose how much or how little we think they should be eating due to our own patterning. Facilitate this process by saying, “Pause, feel your belly”, then open discussion.

If child leaves table to go play, playing with food and not eating it, or is otherwise distracted:

  • “Is your belly still hungry? Make sure your belly is full before you get up from the table so you have enough energy to play”

  • “Ask your belly if it would like any more food”

If child seems to be eating a lot

  • “Is your belly full? If your belly is full you can put your dishes away and eat more food later when your belly is feeling hungry”

  • “Ask your belly if it needs any more food or if it’s full”

  • “Ask your belly if it’s happy, if it is I’ll help you clean up”

It’s actually really cute and helpful to have them ask their bellies what they need. This also distinguishes the difference between Self and sensations. In the english language we say I am hungry; we identify with hunger. The Spanish language, for example, interprets this same sensation as tengo hambre, or I have hunger. Asking in this way gains a little separation between identifying with hunger and recognizing that our bellies need something.

Messy Eaters

Babies and early toddlers are going to spill food on themselves while they eat until about 3 years old, sometimes even after. Never shame a child’s process. I’ve heard parents say things like “Oh, you’re such a mess I can’t believe you got soup all over your clothes, now I’m going to have to change you” and it breaks my heart. Babies may not understand all the words, but they pick up on the energy of the message that is carried, and may even begin altering behavior - not of their own accord, but to avoid feeling shame. Babies are going to be messy, accepting and embracing that is key because they will eventually learn to direct and keep food in their mouths. It is innate in their development, just allow that milestone to unfold naturally.

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