General Tips for a Successful Mealtime Experience
Promote Healthy Eating Habits!
- Make mealtime POSITIVE through praise and role-modeling! Eat with your child as often as you can. Children learn best when watching others, and do well with an appropriate role model sitting next to them. Include young infants and toddlers into your family's mealtime, even if they are not eating! Build healthy habits by encouraging children to try foods (only if they are willing and able according to their age and abilities) and do not try to force anything. Praise your child often so they feel proud and happy to continue positive mealtime behaviors!
- Keep it ROUTINE! Children of all ages benefit from having snacks and meals at the same time (and same place!) each day. Designate an area for mealtime for your child to sit down and eat. Many children wander and walk around while eating, and this can lead to absent-minded eating, which does not help them concentrate on their food to know when they are full and to safely chew/swallow. If the mealtime place/time needs to change, tell your child beforehand, so they have a chance to prepare for the change.
- Positioning is KEY! Children should be able to sit comfortably with good head control, upright trunk/body, and their hips/knees at 90 degree right angles. A highchair or chair with foot support is also recommended, as this will allow the child to feel even more support through their body. This position will help the child feel secure and supported, in order to focus on using their hands and have good mouth (oral-motor) control to safely chew and swallow!
Picky-Eaters vs. Problem-Feeders
Are you having difficulty getting your child to eat? Not sure about your child's feeding habits? Click the button below to take a questionnaire to determine if your child is a "picky-eater" or a "problem-feeder." Consider consulting with the Occupational Therapist or Speech-Language Pathologist on your child's team to learn more strategies to help with feeding and mealtime.
SOS feeding Picky Eaters vs. Problem Feeders Questionnaire
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