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The Satter Feeding Dynamics Model

The Satter approach to feeding

fdSatter and sDOR

The Satter Feeding Dynamics Model (fdSatter) is a grounded in a practical and theoretically sound understanding of and trust in normal child development, including growth, and children’s behavioral, nutritional, psychosocial, oral-motor, and physical competence. Given a supportive feeding context, children evolve Eating Competence-consistent eating attitudes and behaviors: They feel good about eating, push themselves along to eat the food their trusted grownups eat, eat as much as they need to grow predictably, and join in comfortably with family meals and structured snacks. These positive eating attitudes and behaviors, in turn, allow children to evolve dietary variety, maintain energy balance and growth,follow predictable patterns with respect to oral-motor and psychosociall development, and respond optimally to authoritative parenting.

The Satter Division of Responsibility in Feeding

fdSatter is implemented by the Satter Division of Responsibility in Feeding (sDOR), which, in turn, is tested by the validated sDOR.2-6ytm. sDOR translates authoritative parenting into feeding, encouraging parents to take leadership with respect to feeding and give children autonomy with eating. Parents who score high on sDOR.2-6ytm trust children to eat what and as much as they want from what parents provide and avoid pressure and restriction,direct or indirect, positive or negative.

Agencies recognize sDOR as best practice, and sDOR is a core component of the feeding messages developed for preschool-aged children by the Food and Nutrition Service of the US Department of Agriculture, and guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; and Head Start.

sDOR.2-6ytmachievably tests nutrition risk

The Satter Feeding Dynamics Inventory, sDOR.2-6ytm directly assesses sDOR adherence in parents of 24- to 72-month-old children19, 20 by addressing both and only the degree to which parents take leadership with feeding and give their child autonomy with eating. As demonstrated by coded video observation, parents do in practice what their test answers say they do. Correlation with other validated questionnaires indicates that children of parents who follow the Satter Division of Responsibility in Feeding—who score high on sDOR.2-6ytm —have lower nutritional risk. That gives parents and professionals an achievable way to address their biggest feeding worry: that children are doing well nutritionally Parents who test high on sDOR.2-6y tm have higher Eating Competence, sleep quality, and psychosocial functioning and lower stress and lower levels of uncontrolled or emotional eating.

The Satter Division of Responsibility in Feeding

The Satter Division of Responsibility in Feeding (sDOR) encourages parents to take leadership with the what, when, and where of feeding and give children autonomy with the how much and whether of eating. sDOR applies at every stage in the child’s development, from infancy through the early years through adolescenc

The parent is responsible for what children are offered to eat. The child is responsible for how much and whether to eat of the foods offered by the parent. sDOR says to feed infants on demand, letting them determine the timing and tempo of feeding. As the child develops and becomes more regular in his eating patterns, the parent gradually takes on responsibility for when and where the child is fed. Later still, during the later school-age years and adolescence, children gradually take responsibility for when, where, and what they will eat. However, until children leave home, parents can expect children to arrive at family meals hungry and on time.

Most children are ready to join in with the meals-plus-snacks routine of family meals by the end of the first year or the beginning of the second year. After that, parents need to maintain the structure of family meals and sit-down snacks throughout the growing-up years.

When parents do their jobs with feeding, children do their jobs with eating.

sDOR encourages parents to take responsibility for feeding…

  • Choose and prepare food.
  • Provide regular meals and snacks.
  • Make eating times pleasant.
  • Step-by-step, show children by example how to behave at family mealtime.
  • Be considerate of children’s lack of food experience without catering to likes and dislikes.
  • Not let children have food or beverages (except for water) between meal and snack times.
  • Let children grow into the bodies that are right for them.

An essential part of sDOR is for parents to trust their child to be capable with eating.

  • Eat the amount they need.
  • Learn to eat the food their parents eat.
  • Grow predictably in the way that is right for them.
  • Learn to behave well at mealtime.