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Recipes and Food Lists for Picky Eaters

Parents ask me this all the time: "Can you give me recipes or a food list to help my picky eater?"...and according to my research, this is one of the most Googled feeding questions on the internet.  So, I thought I’d better answer it.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as perfect recipes or foods for picky eaters. There are no “magic foods” that will fix picky eating.  As I’ve shared in my previous blogs about picky eating, the best way to get your child to eat new foods is through repeated exposure. Pair this with positive family mealtimes, low pressure, and a good mealtime schedule and you’ve got the perfect recipe!

Having said that, some foods/recipes work better for some kids based on their sensory preferences. For example, if your toddler only eats dry, bland coloured foods like waffles and white toast, in feeding therapy, I might suggest trying to expand their food repertoire by offering foods that are similar in...

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Kids' Nutrition & Growth: Interview with Susan Hui, Mom of 3 & Dietitian

What is the role of a pediatric RD? How do you help parents and kids?

My role as a pediatric dietitian is to assess and provide strategies for parents/caregivers and children to encourage healthy feeding behaviours and food choices. As part of my role as a Registered Dietitian, I assess and monitor children to ensure that their growth is adequate – not too much and not too little.

What does it mean when someone says Failure-to-Thrive (FTT)? Is this term still used?

Failure-to-thrive is a broad term used to describe children who are unable to gain weight (and/or height/length) at a rate than other children of his/her age and gender. Looking at FTT, we consider things such as age, gender, medical complexity, genetics, under-nutrition, etc.  Failure-to-thrive has evolved from simply looking at the growth chart. The term "Failure-to-Thrive" is being used less, as it has a very negative connotation. It is being replaced...

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Top 10 Mealtime Hacks for Toddlers

A Guide to Happy Mealtimes

1. Problem: Toddler Hates Coming to the Table
Solution: Introduce a Mealtime Routine

Before I had kids, I used to say things like “I won’t be too structured with my kids. I will be chill and just go with the flow.” Like I said, that was before I had kids. I quickly learned that toddlers thrive on routine and our household was much more chill when my toddler followed a schedule and a predictable routine.

  • Provide a consistent mealtime routine so your child knows what will happen next
  • Put on music or a playlist that your child associates with mealtime
  • Give a 5-minute warning that lunch will be starting soon
  • Talk about what you are making for lunch and what it looks and smells like
  • Sing a hand washing song to transition from play time to mealtime. Make it fun! "This is the way we wash our hands." (Tune: here we go round the Mulberry Bush)

2. Problem: The Battle of the Bib
Solution: Think Outside the Bib

As a...

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Feeling Judged? Your Child's Feeding Disorder

Nobody “Gets” It

A lovely mom I spoke with today inspired this blog. She said,Nobody gets it. No-one understands what it’s like to have a child with feeding issues.”

And people judge.

This Mom is a great one. She has two children, both with a Pediatric Feeding Disorder (PFD). She is dedicated to helping her children with their feeding issues. She juggles school, medical appointments, feeding clinics, and therapy sessions. At home she conducts food play activities, cooks with her kids, involves them in choosing new foods, develops learning activities and social stories about food, and creates theme nights about new foods…I could go on. This Mom is doing everything right, yet her children continue to have severe feeding issues.

And people judge.

In my many years of practice, parents have repeatedly expressed to me their angst about family members, friends, grandparents, teachers, and even doctors that just don’t “get it” when...

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Feeding Your Baby in the First Year: The How & When of Food Textures

Parent question: "When should I start solids?"

Parent question: "How & when do I increase the texture?"


From 6 to 12 months your baby will begin to accept more solid foods and start to learn to feed him/herself. It is very exciting when your child starts to show interest in what you are eating. Feeding is a developmental process that babies follow at their own pace. It’s more important to consider your child’s developmental readiness rather than offering textures based on his/her age. This especially applies to children with developmental delays and medical issues which may impact their readiness. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate your way down the path of food textures.

Setting the Stage: 0-4 months

In the months leading up to introducing solid foods, encourage your baby to explore different textures and sensations with his/her mouth. Mouthing or oral stimulation with toys, hands, teethers, and mouth brushes helps to pave the way toward solid...

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25 Sensory Play Ideas to Help with Picky Eating

This week's blog completes a 3-part series on sensory issues and feeding. Part 1 explained sensory issues and how and why they impact feeding. Part 2 provided tips to help reduce sensory overload during mealtimes.

Here are some fun, play-based sensory activities to help your child become more comfortable with new foods. Remember that kids learn about new foods through repeated exposure, food play, and sensory exploration. It's important not to pressure your child to eat/try the foods during sensory play...just model your own enjoyment of the foods and have fun learning about new foods through sight, smell, touch, and sound. The tasting part will come with time, practice, and patience.

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Are you doing this? Do This Instead! Sensory Issues and Feeding – Part 2

Last week’s blog aimed to provide some insight into sensory issues and simplify a somewhat confusing question: “Does your child have sensory issues?”. If the answer is yes or even maybe, then this week’s blog is for you!

Let’s jump right into 13 bite-sized tips to help your sensory-kiddo with feeding.


Tip 1 - Calm The Kitchen

Are you doing this?

 Mealtimes are busy in your household. The kitchen is bustling with people. You are cooking. It’s loud. The lights are bright. Dinner is suddenly “READY!!” You bring your child quickly to the table.

Do this instead! 

Kids with sensory issues may find mealtimes overwhelming. The noise, the smells, the bright lights, the talking. Try reducing the chaos. Put on some chilled music, dim the lights, and talk in a calm voice. Warn your child ahead of time that it will be dinner soon, so they are not startled when transitioning from a favourite activity...

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Sensory Issues and Feeding Simplified

Does your child have sensory issues?

I always ask this question as part of my intake questionnaire when conducting a feeding assessment. Immediately after saying it, I try to provide parents with an explanation, because in my opinion it’s a very confusing question.

What are sensory issues?

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a complex neurological disorder that affects the way sensations are experienced and processed. SPD exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses and, as a result, a child’s daily routine and activities are disrupted (Miller 2006).

Here’s the way I explain it to parents…

We use our senses to take-in information about the world around us. This includes our well-known five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Did you know there are also three other “hidden” senses, that most of us aren’t familiar with: proprioception (receptors in our joints, muscles, and bones that give us...

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Mealtime Mess vs. Manners

“I hate the mess at meals.”

“I have a real problem with messiness.”

“Her grandparents won’t allow it.”

“My husband can’t stand the mess.”

“Mess teaches bad manners.”

These are common responses from parents when I tell them that I want them to let their baby (or toddler) get good and messy during mealtimes. You know…squish banana between their little fingers, rub tomato sauce through their hair, poke/prod and roll peas, watch mashed potatoes go splat and giggle as carrots bounce off the kitchen floor.

Simply put…mess is best. Children learn to eat and accept new foods if they are provided with opportunities to get messy. Eating is an experience that engages all of our 5 senses: touch, smell, tastes, sight, and sound. Kids that are encouraged to explore food and get messy tend to be less picky and more likely to eat a variety of foods and textures. Messy mealtimes foster independence by...

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Feeding Issues & Toothbrushing - 10 Tips to Help

Toothbrushing: Who, What, Where, When, Why, & How

I am not a dentist. I’m a Feeding Therapist, so when I ask parents to add toothbrushing to their child’s daily routine, it’s less to do with tooth care and more to do with feeding development.

Many families I have worked with over the years have been advised by a dentist to hold their child down and forcefully brush their teeth. As a Feeding Therapist working with children with severe sensory issues and oral aversion, I do not practice or recommend this approach. I believe that positive toothbrushing experiences support feeding progress and development.

Why?

Toothbrushing is good for your child’s oral health and an essential component of his/her general health. From a feeding perspective, kids that can tolerate mouth stimulation like toothbrushing are generally better able to handle mouth stimulation like food. Toothbrushing supports feeding development. When children can tolerate toothbrushing,...

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