Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding

Children develop eating competence step-by-step throughout the growing-up years when they are fed according to a stage-appropriate division of responsibility. At every stage, parents take leadership with feeding and let the child be self-directed with eating.

The division of responsibility for infants:

The parent is responsible for what
The child is responsible for how much (and everything else)
Parents choose breast- or formula- feeding, help the infant be calm and organized, then feed smoothly, paying attention to information coming from the baby about timing, tempo, frequency, and amounts.

The division of responsibility for older babies making the transition to family food

The parent is still responsible for what,and is becoming responsible for when and where the child is fed.
The child is still and always responsible for how much and whether to eat the foods offered by the parent.
Based on what the child can do, not on how old s/he is, parents guide the child’s transition from nipple feeding through semi-solids, then thick-and-lumpy food, to finger food at family meals.

The division of responsibility For toddlers through adolescents:

The parent is responsible for what, when, where
The child is responsible for how much and whether
Fundamental to parents’ jobs is trusting children to decide how much and whether to eat. If parents do their jobs with feeding, children do their jobs with eating:

Parents’ feeding jobs:

Choose and prepare the food
Provide regular meals and snacks
Make eating times pleasant
Show children what they have to learn about food and mealtime behavior
Be considerate of children’s food inexperience without catering to likes and dislikes
Not let children have food or beverages (except for water) between meal and snack times
Let children grow up to get bodies that are right for them
Children’s eating jobs:

Children will eat
They will eat the amount they need
They will learn to eat the food their parents eat
They will grow predictably
They will learn to behave well at mealtime
Copyright © 2012 by Ellyn Satter. Published at http://www.EllynSatter.com.

Here you go. The best parenting advice I have ever read. The most sensible ideas about food I have ever heard. Full copyright to Ellyn Satter.