Should I Force him to Clean his Plate?

Child nutrition experts agree … the clean plate club is a thing of the past. It’s gone the way of tummy sleeping for infants and  early potty training, since we now know that forcing a child to eat everything on the plate just teaches them to ignore their natural internal satiety cues and may contribute to overeating and obesity.

Instead, offer small (and we mean like 2 or 3 bites) portions of new foods, or foods you think he’s not crazy about. If he tries it, great. If not, don’t sweat it. Continue to offer nutritious, balanced meals as standard fare and DON’T fall into the trap of panicking if he doesn’t eat enough.

Have faith, if he’s hungry  he will eat — but not if you offer rescue foods you know he likes between meals. Children will not starve when healthy food is available, but they sure will play you to get the stuff they prefer. A wide range of colorful, nutritious choices is the way to go.

And we all know that the old saw about children starving in India was never effective, anyway.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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