Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds
There aren't many better ways to create eating disorders than forcing people to eat when/what they don't want to, outside of their bodies' cues. I feel as strongly about this as I do about spanking, cio, etc. It's unhealthy at best, damaging at worst.
However . . . .
There is a fine balance between letting your child take full control of their eating, and needing to recognize and manage the feeding of a child who has some health or behavioral issues. Because ultimately it's my responsibility to feed my child and make sure she gets proper nutrition one way or another. I do NOT believe in force feeding, but I do believe in getting help if a child is not eating well.
There are an unfortunately high number of kids who don't have normal hunger cues. If the child is consistenly not hungry, or not eating certain textures of food, it's time to get to the root of the problem. It could be allergies, constipation, reflux, sensory issues, just to name a few (in my dd it was all of the above). If a child is not feeling well, the will be unable to recognize hunger, or will make the child have gas or a hurting tummy so they don't feel hungry. It is because some children have problems that are unrecognized, that they are force-fed by worried parents who don't have the experience or resources to get help for them.
My oldest dd has issues that went undiagnosed for years. Worried about her as I was, I gave her liquid nutrition and we followed her around with bites of food a few times a day to make sure she got a healthy balanced diet. As it was, she was very small and thin *because* she did not feel like eating because she had problems. She is now a great eater and can follow her own cues, because we have found the source of her problems and addressed them. As a first time mother I was not aware of the possible health issues. I just knew she was not eating, her ribs were showing, and she had some major behavioral problems.
My dd2, unfortunately, turned off her hunger cues because of severe pain associated with silent reflux. I was told over and over she had colic. The whole "she'll eat when she's hungry enough" thing has never applied to her. To make a long story short, we are slowly trying to wean her from her feeding tube. She is capable of eating about 50% of her diet by mouth but if it was up to her she'd eat about 10% and it would all be in the form of crackers or bread. I measure out how many calories she needs for a meal, make sure it's balanced, and I feed it to her bite by bite until it's gone, even if that's 2 hours later and I have to just follow her around and give her a bite during play. If she is not interested, I take her onto my lap and tell her she can play again after she takes the bite.
Believe me, I would rather not have to go to these measures to feed my child but it's either that or have her so dependant on her feeding tube that she will not ever experience what it's like to taste, chew, and swallow. Which stimulates the brain in more ways than I can list here and is necessary for development (just like babies who explore their world through chewing toys and their fingers, etc).
I know that my children are not typical and this post is off topic in some ways. I just wanted to put it out there that if your child is having feeding difficulties, please do try to see if there is an underlying cause.