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3 Benefits of Cooking with Kids

3 Benefits of Cooking with Kids

  1. Cooking with kids can help to build a positive relationship with food and may reduce picky eating, as it gives your child an opportunity to learn about new foods through their senses. Kids learn to eat by looking, touching, smelling, and eventually tasting when they are ready.
  2. Cooking with your child provides an opportunity to connect, hang-out together, talk, and laugh. It’s a chance to bond, have fun, and share culture.
  3. Language and learning opportunities are plentiful during cooking. Cooking involves language, literacy, math, and science. It’s a fun way to work on counting, naming, sorting, and learning to follow directions. Cooking provides so many teachable moments and can help with cognitive and fine-motor development.

3 Rules (ok..ok…Guidelines) when Cooking with Kids

  1. Have fun and try not to stress. The goal isn’t to prepare a perfect meal...the goal is to learn about food together. You could even create your own new...
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Seriously? Play with your food? Yes! Absolutely! Play with your food!

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.


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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Feeding

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:

  • Reduced variety of foods (e.g., only eat 1 food group, texture, brand, or colour)
  • Difficulty accepting new foods (e.g., gagging, fear/crying, running away from the table)
  • Challenges accepting changes in food preparation (e.g., slight changes in texture/colour or temperature can lead to complete refusal of a meal)
  • Difficulty transitioning to table foods (e.g., only eat pureed foods)
  • Only eating fast foods that are prepared outside the home (e.g., McDonald’s fries only)
  • Difficulty tolerating changes in the mealtime environment/routine (unable...
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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”


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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