3 Benefits of Cooking with Kids
3 Rules (ok..ok…Guidelines) when Cooking with Kids
As a child, my parents used to tell me NOT to play with my food…well, times have changed.
Playing with food is good for kids…especially kids with sensory issues and those that are picky eaters. Kids learn about foods and move toward food acceptance by exploring foods with all of their senses. Eating is a very sensory experience and we take in information from all of our senses during mealtimes. Kids learn through play. We use play-based learning to teach kids their numbers, colours, and letters; however, when it comes to food, we tend to be more serious with messages like, “Don’t play with your food.”
Food play offers an opportunity for kids to explore and learn about foods, without any pressure to “eat” or “try” the foods. Children learn through looking, touching, smelling, and squishing. Over time they become more comfortable interacting with the foods and may eventually start eating them when they are ready.
Parent Question: How can I help my child with Autism with his feeding issues?
Throughout my career as a Speech-Language Pathologist I have worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and feeding challenges. Children on the Autism Spectrum have a significantly higher incidence of feeding issues than typically developing children. These are some of the feeding differences I have encountered when working with children with ASD:
“Just offer your child what the rest of the family is eating. If he gets hungry enough, he will eat”
This logic does not apply to all kids, especially to children with ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) or those with severe selective eating/sensory-based feeding issues. I have seen this myth in practice. Children with severe feeding issues will often go without eating, rather than eat foods that they feel they “cannot” eat. I say “cannot” because these kids view the food as something that they are unable to eat. It’s not a matter of not wanting to eat it, they feel that the food cannot be eaten. Instead offer your child foods they can eat successfully along with foods you would like to introduce. I ask parents to use the 75-25 rule. This means that 75% of the plate should be familiar foods the child can eat, and 25% should be new foods for exposure and learning.
“My doctor says not to worry, my child...
Feeding issues are extremely distressing for parents. It’s normal for parents to want to know why their child is having feeding issues, when they are often surrounded by other kids that are eating well. Seeing other kids eat well is frustrating and painful for parents and they often tell me that they wish their child would eat like their friends’ kids. I find it’s helpful for parents to understand the “Why” of their child’s feeding challenges. In my 20-years of experience as a feeding therapist, these are the 7 main reasons children have feeding issues. Many kids have more than one contributing factor, which can make feeding even more challenging for little ones and their families:
I have provided frontline homecare with children aged 0-18 years for over 2 decades, working closely with physicians, other therapists, and hospitals to help children with feeding and swallowing issues. I have worked with babies, toddlers, and older children, and teens with a wide range of medical and developmental issues impacting their feeding.