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4 Tips to Help with Picky Eaters
Parents – take a look at your mealtimes. Are they stressful? Is picky eating or other mealtime challenges preventing you from using that time to connect with one another after another busy day? Breathe easy, as you are not alone. Research indicates that up to 50% of all infants and children will experience difficulties with feeding. What’s important to remember is that early intervention is key, because difficult dinners can negatively impact parent-child relationships. What can you look out for as a parent? There are many behaviors that can indicate difficulty for a child to safely eat including, but not limited to:
- Food aversions, including avoiding textures, flavors, etc.
- Difficulty swallowing and/or chewing
- Coughing and/or choking when eating or drinking
- Poor weight gain
- Eating a limited variety of foods, food groups
- Refusal to eat or drink
If you recognize any of these behaviors, even if you feel your concern is minor, reach out to your child’s PCP to see if your child should be evaluated for feeding therapy. You can also contact LifeScape for a free feeding screening through a fast and easy over-the-phone consultation. You can speak with a feeding specialist who will answer your questions and listen to your concerns, no strings attached. In the meantime, here are a few tips to try at home to make food and eating a more positive experience for everyone at home:
- Exposure - The number one thing that can help prevent picky eating is exposing kids to different foods, and not just once, but over and over. It can take up to 20 times for a child to try (chew and swallow) a new food for them to know if they truly don’t like it.
- Stay Positive - Don't make mealtimes all about what your child will or will not eat. Focus on family time, conversation and having it be a time where you can connect as a family.
- Make Food Fun - Let your kids explore and play with their food. Take non-preferred foods and think of a creative way to prepare them. For example, give your kids some toothpicks, grapes and strawberries and see what they can build! The ideas are endless!
- Get Involved - Bring your kids into the kitchen and have them participate in preparing meals and snacks. This provides exposure to those foods, and teaches a variety of other skills- math, reading, problem solving, following directions.
Remember the end goal is bringing the joy and connection back to the dinner table, for the entire family.