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How to Deal with Mealtime Blues

How to Deal with Mealtime Blues

Beat The Mealtime Blues WeeCare

Children can sometimes be very hard to please when it comes to food, but it can be even more difficult if a child has a sensory processing disorder. What can parents do to help their children with nutrition if this is the case?

The first step is identifying the problem. A child could be dealing with sensory deficiencies, gastrointestinal issues, or problems swallowing. It is important to identify these types of problems sooner rather than later. If a child does have a swallowing problem, treatment could entail swallowing barium, a much more difficult process the older the child is. Children start to exhibit signs of having these types of issues once they begin introduction to solid foods, which can start as early as seven months.

Once the problem is identified and treatment is sought, it is important for parents to help their kids view food in a positive manner. For instance, language used to refer to food is important. It is better to say, “Wow that was so sweet,” as opposed to “That was gross.” Kids are like sponges. They learn from their parents and judging the food as a parent will teach a child to dislike that particular food. Parents can show their kids how to be open to food by putting a little bit of everything from the table on their own plate and encouraging their children to do the same. To boost even more positive feelings about eating time, parents can incorporate their children in the preparation and clean up of a meal so they feel included and start to think of it as a normal process.

If a child has sensory issues, parents should try pre-dining exercises like pushing a heavy chair across the floor with their hands and drying their hands in a textured towel after washing them. These exercises help get their bodies regulated so they’re prepped for any sensory distractions that may arise from food i.e. the texture of spaghetti or the motor skill challenge of picking up broccoli with a fork. Ensuring a comfortable sitting position for eating will also defuse distraction while eating. For example, if a child uses a booster seat; placing a step stool to keep their legs from dangling back and forth is a good idea.

Parents should encourage good eating habits with their children. Kids want predictability, making every meal time a routine is imperative. It also helps regulate their metabolism. In addition, Parents can teach their kids what a balanced diet is by serving essential food groups at every meal. Lastly, it is vital not to allow talking about food become taboo. Talking about color, texture, and shape with kids will help ease their anxiety if they are having sensory problems with their food.

We hope these tips help making mealtime easier for you and your child!

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