Halloween is approaching which for children, means lots of candy and sweet treats!
From our friends at Black Bear Academy
As we approach this holiday filled with lots of preferred food and snack options, it feels appropriate to address the concerns that parents often share about their children and their eating. As parents, it is our responsibility to pay attention to the nutritional intake of our children, as we are aware of its impact on health and development of our growing little ones. But what happens when children have a very limited food repertoire, or refuse to eat anything with any sort of nutritional value? Then what?
Feeding therapy falls under the scope of both Speech Language Pathology and Occupational therapy, and at Black Bear Academy, defining the root cause of the feeding difficulties will support the treatment plan. Many considerations are addressed during a feeding evaluation, which will help the clinician have a better understanding of how to approach the feeding issue. They will spend time learning about the child’s medical history, child’s food repertoire in regards to the consistencies and textures of foods they will tolerate, their physiological structures of their face and mouth. In addition, they will work to decipher on whether there is a behavioral component to their picky eating style, which is described by feeding therapist, Melanie Potock in the ASHA Leader, as “a food jag.”
Regardless of the root cause, feeding difficulties are stressful for the entire family.
Based on the experiences that we’ve encountered as feeding therapists at Black Bear Academy, we can offer a few tips to support the process of mealtime.
- Find Ways to Enjoy Mealtime: It’s true that meal time is about nutrition, but there is also a social component to mealtime that is so important. Take time as a family, even just for ten minutes, to sit down together and laugh, cheers with your “sippy cups,” and enjoy being around the table together.
- Don’t Stress if there is Food Leftover on the Plate: Exposure to a variety of food items is part of the process. Seeing it, smelling it and touching it is a good start, even if they don’t eat it.
- Offer Small Portions: Although it is culturally common to put full portions (or more!) on your plate, it may be visually overwhelming for you child. It’s okay to offer small portions or one item at time which may seem more manageable for them.
- Engage in Food-Related Activities Together: Build relationships with food by doing fun activities as a family. Have your child help you make your grocery list and then pick out the various items together when you are at the store. Pick out a recipe and prepare it together (cookies are a great place to start!). This will help your child to associate positive feelings surrounding food.
- Seek Guidance: As we’ve discussed, feeding and nutrition are sensitive topics and elicit feelings of stress when parents are experiencing difficulty with their children in this area. Seek guidance from your pediatrician and talk to them about whether seeking a feeding therapy consult may be helpful.
We hope you all enjoy this fun and sweet Halloween!
Sources Retrieved From: ASHA Leader. June 2014. http://blog.asha.org/2014/06/12/preventing-food-jags-whats-a-parent-to-do/