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Every baby is born with a working ‘full-o-stat’ that tells it when it has had enough to eat.

Although it’s true that some babies born of obese mothers can already be showing signs that their ‘full-o-stat’ is already slightly out of true, the majority of babies know exactly when they are hungry and when they are full.

If a baby is breast fed, once a regular feeding pattern is set up, they will show clear signs once they are full – pulling away, looking round the room, looking angry when made to eat more etc.

If a baby is bottle fed it is more difficult to respond to these fullness cues as every bottle-feeding parent knows that urge to get the baby to ‘finish the bottle’.

If a parent can tune in to the baby’s messages and respond to them then they’ll go a long way to maintaining a healthy ‘full-o-stat’ in their child.

And that job goes on through childhood. How many of us have made our children finish up their plate? Did we ever think to check whether they were still hungry?

Having an excess of food available is still a relatively new phenomena to most of us. With 24-hour convenience stores and endless, cheap fast-food outlets filling our cities, it’s more important than ever that we help our children to hold on to that knowledge of when they are hungry and when they have had enough to eat.

Philippa Boston is a  journalist, writer, and National Trainer for the HENRY organisation, which works to prevent childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles in families with young children.