What are childhood feeding practices?
Childhood feeding practices are the ways in which parents and caregivers feed children. How a parent or caregiver decides to feed a child matters to the child's overall health and relationship with food.
In order to prevent chronic, lifestyle-related health conditions in children, the Public Health Department promotes the 5 Keys to Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater, which follows Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. These keys promote a positive feeding relationship between caregivers and children and help children grow into happy, competent, and healthy eaters.
The 5 Keys to Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater
The 5 Keys describe different responsibilities for the parent and child during meals and snacks. When parents follow the 5 Keys, they provide a structured feeding environment that supports children in learning to become competent eaters.
The parent responsibilities of the 5 Keys are:
- What food is offered
- When food is offered
- Where food is offered
The child responsibilities of the 5 Keys are:
- Whether or not to eat the foods offered
- How much to eat from what is offered
For more information about these keys, please refer to our parent, provider, and additional resources below.
Resources for Parents
Parents living in the County of Santa Clara can learn more about the 5 Keys by taking a 4-class parenting series called the 10 Steps to a Healthier You offered by the Healthier Kids Foundation. The classes go over the 10 Steps to a Healthier You lifestyle recommendations for families, how to set up structure and routines for kids, the 5 Keys to Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater, and additional strategies to boost healthy habits at home.
Training for Providers
The Health Department provides information and training about the 5 Keys to pediatric healthcare providers, public health programs, and community-based organizations, so parents receive consistent, best practice feeding messages from each of their service providers. Please consider taking one of all of our provider trainings listed below.