Picky eaters and normal eaters each deserve the experience of happy mealtimes. Helping families have joyful and responsive mealtimes with kids who are picky (or normal!) eaters is an integral part of Feeding Therapy at Amy Zier + Associates. Call or click to discover how AZ+A can help!
Our team of occupational therapists and our resident feeding specialist, Karen Dilfer (MS, OTR/L), understand that feeding kids can be challenging, and family mealtimes can be stressful. However, the benefits of family mealtimes include improved family relationships, mental health, and more nutritious diets for kids.
Nutrition is information the body uses to inform all of our bodily systems. When those systems receive good information, they begin to synergize, regulate, and heal.
Finding a solution for the feeding challenges facing your child and family is an important component in the relationship-based therapies at AZ+A. With that, here are tips for helping kids that struggle with eating and enjoying mealtimes.
5 Tips for Successful Mealtimes:
- Don’t allow kids to graze during the day. When kids are (appropriately) hungry, they will experience the privilege of appetite. Hunger is an important part of being a typical eater. Offer foods every few hours. Think: meal-snack-meal-snack 🥗 🍪🍲
- Use routine. Routines help kids understand expectations and decrease anxiety because things are predictable! Offer dinner at roughly the same time in approximately the same place, for example.
- Know that it’s the parent’s job to offer food. Consider offering at least three foods and a drink at each meal. When parents provide food, kids have choices. The choice is a great way to avoid a power struggle.
- Know that it’s a child’s job to say yes, no, or how much! When we let children decide how much to eat, children get good at regulating their energy intake. As adults, we do not need to comment on a child’s choices or encourage them to eat more.
- If a child is very particular, ensure there is at least one preferred food. The options might be a dinner roll or even a glass of milk. It doesn’t have to be a separate entree–although it could be.
Click HERE for an excellent mealtime resource for families and to learn more about eating competence and joyful mealtimes.