The Early Learning Institute (TELI) | 05.03 |

Is Your Child a Member of the Picky Eaters Club?

Part II of teli’s Feeding Series: 

Picky Eaters and Early Intervention

Is Your Child a Member of the Picky Eaters Club?  There is Help!!

Picky eaters and early interventionIf your child a member of the “picky eaters” club, take heart, you are not alone!

In Part I of teli’s feeding series, Starting Solid Foods is More Than Meets the Eye, Kim Morrow, a teli Developmental Specialist, shared some helpful insights on transitioning your child to solids.  In Part II Kim provides some suggestions to help your child explore new foods  to ensure a nutritious and varied diet to support their continue growth.

“A child’s eating habits are a pretty typical concern of parents.  “As a child grows making their own choices on what to eat is one of the ways they begin to assert their independence.  Our goal is to give families the tools and ideas to help the opinionated eater not become a problem eater” notes Kim.

In her years of practice, Kim has worked with numerous children and their families.  In the following she shares some of the key steps she has found the most effective in encouraging a child to try something new!

1)  One Step at a Time

Picky eaters and early interventionWhen introducing an unfamiliar food it is important to offer it with a familiar food.  You may need to present a single new food 10-15 times before your child may accept that new food. They are adjusting to that new food and adjusting to the food taste, smell, and texture —so patience is essential.

2) Meal Routines are Very Important

Children are often most comfortable when routines are followed. Be sure to establish routine meal times and expectations. These should include 3 meals and 1-2 nutritious snacks per day and a regular location to gather for a meal. Remember mealtimes are an opportunity for family communication and socialization.

3) Snacking with Care

Be aware of the nature and frequency of snacks.  Snacks are an important part of the meal routine but allowing your child to “graze” through the afternoon may result in a less than interested eater at dinner time.   Also be mindful of the impact that liquids have on a child’s appetite.  Juice and milk consumed prior to a meal can also make a child feel “full”.

 4) Involve Them in the Process

Involving your child in the process of meal preparation can help them to feel more ownership.  Have them help you to select a new vegetable or fruit while grocery shopping. Introduce a new food into a fun arts and crafts project as a way to explore colors, textures and shapes. Create a broccoli forest  with a river of ranch dressing for dipping or a game out of how many green bean “logs” they can stack as a way to get comfortable with a new food.

5) Consider Creative Themes

Introduce “Green Week” that translates to not only the new food you would like them to try, but their  clothes and their art projects, etc.  Have them select a new “green” food to add to their sandwich and have them use a cookie cutter to create a specially shaped sandwich.  Give foods fun names like “X-ray carrots” or “Silly Sandwich time”.  A “Smoothie Saturday”   is a particular favorite when a child can add foods to the blender and transform them with the push of a button.

6) Change in Location

Reinventing a mealtime through a change in location or surroundings can be a great way to have fun with your child.  No matter the weather outside, a blanket on the family room floor, paper plates and cups to serve the foods they have helped you prepare is a nice alternative that enable them to experience a new perspective on unfamiliar foods.

7) Invite a Friend

Invite a food adventurous friend to dinner! No one influences a child more than their friends.  If they see a friend sampling broccoli or a mango slice, they may be more apt to give it a try.

Is your child not just a “picky eater “?

So you have tried these tactics and your child is still having issues? Kim notes that in some cases you may require the support of your pediatrician and Early Intervention services, such as those provided by teli’s staff of Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, and Developmental Specialist.

Some of the behaviors that indicate there may be other concerns include:

  • weight loss or signs of nutritional deficiencies
  • difficulty moving food around in their mouth to swallow
  • gagging or vomiting with new or disliked food
  • extreme behaviors over extended periods of time such as  tantrums, crying uncontrollably surrounding mealtimes

Learn more about Early Intervention and how teli can help!

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