Responsive Feeding for Young Children

Responsive Feeding
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Your relationship with your child is essential to happy and successful mealtimes! Using responsive feeding at mealtimes means that you support your child’s independent eating, pay attention to their communication, respond promptly, and let them lead the way. As a parent, you can give your child rich opportunities to learn about food and avoid deciding for them what they eat and how much. Doing these things can lead to less mealtime stress and more enjoyment at the table! 

Responsive Mealtimes are about…

  • Trust
  • Togetherness
  • No pressure
  • Clear expectations
  • Opportunities | Not demands
  • Conversation | About things other than food

Family Benefits

  • Less family conflict and stress at mealtimes
  • Teaches a child to naturally self-regulate food intake
  • Promotes child’s self-feeding skills and overall development
  • Children may learn to eat a wider variety of foods


  • Learns from the mealtime
  • Chooses which food to eat
  • Chooses amount to eat

Hunger Cues

  • Indicates they want food
  • Shows excitement with food
  • Points to food

Fullness Cues

  • Stops eating
  • Turns body away
  • Moves away from table/gets down from table


  • Sits with child
  • Provides safe and supportive environment
  • Offers at least one or two familiar foods
  • Explores food with their child
  • Responds to child’s gestures, body language,
    and words
  • Discovers what their child loves
  • Sets predictable and enjoyable mealtime


  • Children communicate in different ways
  • It may get messy but that’s ok
Publication date: 2023