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TIPS FOR YOUR PICKY EATER- Part 1

picky 2 Is your child a picky eater? Do you worry about your child’s intake or resistance to certain foods? Does the dinner table become a battlefield? Are you and your child stressed during meals?

Typical picky eating behavior often surfaces around one year- a time when new consistencies are being introduced. It can even be seen earlier when lumpy purees are presented. Picky eating often peaks during toddlerhood when kids are running around the house, touching and dumping everything in sight.   

A toddlers stomach is approximately the same size of his/her clenched fist so keep this in mind when you are thinking about portions. Toddlers are naturally picky. They gain weight at a much slower rate than when they were infants, therefore, they do not grow as quickly. Toddlers are also leaning many new skills like walking, climbing, running and talking. It is a busy time. During times of change, toddlers often seek “sameness” in their foods and routines. We as parents need to bend with them and realize that they are going to be inconsistent on a consistent basis!!!

I receive phone calls at my practice on a daily basis from distressed family members regarding their child’s limited food repertoire and resistance to consume anything new. After a consult or two, most families are headed in the right direction. There are other children and families however, that need more support due to underlying issues. The most important question I want to answer is,

WHY IS THIS CHILD RESISTING FOODS?

There are many factors that must be looked at and questions that may need answering.

  1. Is your child constipated?
  2. Does your child have a history of reflux or past surgeries near the mouth?
  3. Is there an underlying anxiety?
  4. Are there undiagnosed food allergies?
  5. Is chewing certain foods difficult?
  6. Are meals and snacks unstructured and on the run?
  7. Is there an unhealthy family dynamic going on around mealtimes (food pushing, yelling, hiding foods inside other foods)?
  8. Is there an underlying sensory issue that may have turned into a behavior?

 Most children have well over 30 foods in their repertoire. I personally recommend feeding intervention for “SELECTIVE EATERS” (having less than 10 foods they readily accept) as well as children that eliminate complete food groups. I also work with children with sensory issues around feeding, using a desensitization model with no pressure to “take bites”. Other children that benefit from therapy or consultation are kids that eat a completely “brown diet” (e.g. pasta, toast, cookies, nuggets) and parents that have a fear about moving their children from pureed foods to solids.  

WHAT CAN PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS DO TO HELP?

 Continue to eat healthy foods in line with what you would like your child to eat.

 Prepare meals together (measure, pour, rip, etc.). Involve your child in the process even if it is setting the table or spooning food onto plates. Make this a routine once a day.

Talk about the foods’ principals (e.g. this is wet, this is bumpy, this is cold) as you touch the same food on your plate. Exhibit positive behavior when trying new foods because your child is watching and listening!

SIT WITH YOUR CHILD and eat with your child. Make it an activity to bond.

DON’T PUT PRESSURE on your child. YOUR RESPONSIBILITY is to provide the food and THEIR RESPONSIBILITY is to determine how much they eat.

EAT ON A SCHEDULE WITH ONLY WATER IN BETWEEN SNACKS AND MEALS. Use timer to help with setting a structure.

REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN AT MEALS AND SNACKS!

               

 

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