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How to Help Your Picky Eater Accept New Foods: Part 3

This week’s blog completes my 3-part series about how to help your picky eater to accept new foods.

In Part 1, I discussed how children learn to accept new foods through a sensory hierarchy of looking, touching, smelling, kissing, licking, biting and spitting-out, and eventually chewing and swallowing. In order to help your child work through these steps, your job is to provide repeated exposure to new foods in order for your child to learn about them.

In Part 2, I shared information about the child vs caregivers’ role at mealtimes. I provided actionable 10-tips to help your child work toward food acceptance.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the steps children go through when learning about new foods along with your role as caregiver to help your child be successful.

Now for Part-3. Here’s how to keep the ball rolling and continue to encourage your child to explore new foods.
The Set-Up
  • Don’t present too many new foods all at once
  • Offer...
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10 Tips to Help Picky Eaters Accept New Foods: Part 2

In last week’s blog (Part 1), I shared the sensory steps that kids often go through when learning to accept a new food. Your child may not be ready to chew and swallow a new food; however, he/she may be comfortable looking, squishing, smelling, or kissing the food. In time, he/she will work toward food acceptance, at his/her own pace.

Parents and kids both have jobs at mealtimes:

Ellyn Satter is a renowned Registered Dietician who termed the “Division of Responsibility” or Golden Rule in feeding: Adults decide what food is served, when it is served, and where. The child decides how much to eat, and whether to eat at all.  I highly recommend her website (link in references below) and resources. I often share Ellyn’s golden rule as a handout with the families I work with and I ask them to post-in on their fridge as a daily reminder: 

10 Tips to Help Parents with their Feeding Job:

1. Family Meals
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How Do I Get My Picky Eater to Try New Foods? Part 1

Answer: Try not to say, “try it” or “take a bite.”

Imagine you are visiting a new country. You are staying with a friendly group of people that enjoy fried grasshoppers as part of their culture and cuisine. They love fried grasshoppers. Watching these people crunch into the big, juicy grasshoppers with bits of legs and tentacles breaking off makes your stomach turn. Sometimes during mealtimes, you feel like gagging, as you are not familiar with this food. They keep telling you how delicious the grasshoppers are, and they constantly pressure you to just “try it”.

 

New foods are like fried grasshoppers to kids with feeding issues; they are scared of the food. The sight of a new food might make their stomach turn. They may gag or even vomit when pushed to “try” a new food. Foods that are familiar to you and me, like carrots, berries, and pasta might look like fried grasshoppers to a child with a feeding disorder. These kids do not...

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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.

As...

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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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