Responsive feeding, recognized by health agencies worldwide, refers to the reciprocal interaction between the child and caregiver. The child can signal their hunger of fullness and the caregiver responds in an appropriate, respectful and supportive way. The feeding environment is calm and comfortable. The caregiver provides healthy and aesthetically pleasing meal and snacks, models healthy eating, supports the child to self-feed and uses subtle verbal cues that are focused on internal hunger or fullness, rather that external ones. For example the caregiver may say, ‘do you feel full or do you feel like you are still hungry?’ rather than ‘eat all your meal so you will be a big boy or girl’. Food is not used as a reward nor a punishment.
Caregivers should also support a positive social environment for meal and snack times; listen to the stories the children will share and share stories with them. Isn’t this what we all most enjoy about sharing meals with others? We believe that these positive memories will support a lifelong healthy relationship with food.