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Take a Bite (Out of 3 Feeding Myths)

Myth 1

“Just offer your child what the rest of the family is eating. If he gets hungry enough, he will eat”

Truth

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.

Myth 2

“My doctor says not to worry, my child...

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Parent question: Why won’t my child eat like other kids his age?

Nicola says:

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:

  1. Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD): If your child has or previously had reflux (heartburn), he may have learned to associate eating with pain or vomiting. This can lead to food refusal. He thinks, “I eat and it hurts, so I don’t want to eat.”...
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Q&A with Nicola Pratt

You’ve been an SLP and feeding therapist for over 20-years, what do parents most often ask you when you first meet?

  • Why won’t my child eat?
  • When will my child eat?
  • How can I get my child to eat?

What is your background with pediatric feeding issues?

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.

What are some specific types of feeding issues you see in children?

  • Breast/bottle feeding problems
  • Problems transitioning to solids/purees
  • Difficulty transitioning from purees to table foods
  • Oral motor (mouth muscle) or chewing delays
  • Gagging or choking
  • Dream-feedings
  • Picky Eating
  • Meal scheduling challenges
  • Requires distractions to eat
  • Force feeding
  • Slow growth
  • Tube feeding...
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