Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hiding Veggies

Well, had an interesting conversation the other day which prompted this post.  What about those picky kids that don't eat a lot of foods?  What's a problem and what's just being picky?

Here's some red flags:

  • your child avoids all foods of a certain texture or temperature
  • your child completely cuts out a food group, i.e. no veggies
  • your child is not eating enough calories to support his growth
  • your child does not sit for meals, and continually wants to graze throughout the day
Any of the above warrants a conversation with a pediatrician and a potential referral to an OT, speech therapist, or feeding clinic.  There are many ways to approach feeding with a child who is resistant to trying new foods, even gagging on them.  A multisensory approach paired with a behavioral strategies is best.  To ignore one or the other is setting the child up for frustration.  A consult with the medical community is always recommended to ensure feeding is a safe activity.

Here's some ideas to get you rolling, whether your child has significant feeding issues or whether you think he's just being picky:
  • try making your own pizza or spaghetti sauce, you can hide lots of red or orange veggies and fruits pureed into it
  • try having a 'dipping' snack using a preferred cracker or pretzel, dip into a variety of tastes, including pudding, yogurt, dressings, even pickle juice or salsa!
  • try using a ratio like three bites of a preferred food to one bite of a non-preferred
  • make sure that at each meal, at least one preferred is on the table
  • try and make snacks and mealtimes consistent so that the child doesn't graze all day, if he does, he may never feel truly hungry
  • be patient, kids may take 10 to 15 presentations of a new food before they try it
  • try a multisensory approach, play with your food
  • challenge the child sequentially, working a new food towards the mouth, he may need to touch it with his hands, touch it to his cheeks, touch lips (give it a kiss), touch tongue, be allowed to hold it in his mouth, then spit it out, etc. working up to eating it
  • let you child have his own fun utensils, have him help set the table and prepare the food

What's worked for you?  Have specific questions?  Please comment!

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