We’ve teamed up with ABC Pediatric Therapy this year to give Moms the knowledge they need to know about child development and how to deal with tough topics, like picky eating. It can be so easy to over-worry about what your child is and is not eating and it feels overwhelming and lonely at times. We’ve put together some knowledge on the subject for you and ways you can help your child start eating a variety of foods.
Did you know by 3 your child’s diet should typically consist of a variety foods with various textures, sights, temperatures, colors and consistencies? If your child is not eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, and mixed foods (such as mac and cheese or spaghetti), then your child may be a picky eater.
Before addressing feeding, make sure you child’s sensory needs are being meet. Sometimes addressing sensory concerns, such as deficits in proprioceptive input (knowing where your body is in space through heavy work or deep pressure), vestibular input (movements such as swinging), and or tactile input (how your body reacts to touch) can be enough input to help your child try new foods.
Let your kids start interacting with new foods before they eat them. Touching and playing with foods before they eat them can help them become more comfortable with eating or tasting them. To assist with interacting with food, have your child prepare food and use utensils or the container to stir or pour foods/drinks. If your child is having difficulty with using utensils and self-feeding skills, please contact an occupational therapist for additional assistance.
With non-preferred foods, let them smell or even put the food up to their lips. Let them do this several times before they are actually eating the food. Even reward them for getting the food up to their lips! Give them a preferred food for every time they lick, or take a tiny bite of food.
If they are not progressing, a therapist will be able to determine if your child is having sensitivities to the temperature, texture, flavor, sight, or smell of certain foods which could be inhibiting his/her success.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Here are some tried and true tips and tricks from experts at ABC Pediatric Therapy!
- Try new foods that are similar to those your child already enjoys. For example, if your child likes French fries, try introducing a few sweet potato fries on their plate. If your child likes pizza, try adding chopped up vegetables on the pizza. If your child likes chips, try pretzels or veggie straws.
- Use what your child likes to your advantage. If your child likes cheese, try broccoli and cheddar soup or cooked vegetables with cheese sauce. If your child likes macaroni and cheese, try using vegetable pasta instead of regular pasta.
- Involve your children in the food-making process. Take them grocery shopping, have them help mix ingredients together, or have them taste-test along the way. Knowing that they were part of making the food may encourage kids to try the finished product.
- Consider planting fruits and vegetables outside. This can be a great learning experience for children on where food comes from, as well as an opportunity to try something they actually grew.
- Take advantage of dips. Find a dip that your child enjoys, such as ranch, spinach and artichoke dip, or hummus. Use that as a tool to encourage trying new foods to dip.
- Make mealtimes and food prep fun and be creative. Use cookie cutters to cut food into different shapes, make silly meals from your children’s favorite TV shows, or come up with silly names for foods.
- Give your child choices. Children like to be in control and letting them pick from a few choices of what they will have on their plates is a good way to increase cooperation.
- Limit grazing. This will help your child establish an internal system that promotes eating when they are hungry rather than snacking throughout the day, which can increase their willingness to try new foods.
- Find foods that are your child’s favorite color, or try to eat all the colors of the rainbow. Make a game out of it and see who can eat the whole rainbow first