3 Feeding Tips From a Speech Pathologist
So your child has a feeding disorder and they need feeding therapy. Before starting therapy, it is so important to understand what is the underlying cause of this feeding issue. Is it due to swallowing difficulties, sensory issues, reflux issues, etc..? We know that if eating is uncomfortable for whatever reason, children (and even adults) may begin to avoid that food or even an entire food group. Sometimes this might be the right move due to some allergies or sensitivities; however, there are many times that children may make decisions to not eat certain food based on a partially right conclusion or even a completely wrong conclusion. "When I eat all fruits and vegetables, my throat hurts and I feel uncomfortable - so I will stop eating all colorful food!"
As children start feeding therapy, there are so many things we can do to guide them through and past their fears of eating. Here are some tips!
1. Routine is everything! At the beginning (and the end!) of therapy, kids need a consistent routine to get their brain and their body ready for what is to come. Do some physical activity to wake up their body, wash their hands, wipe down their mouth with a wet cloth, and get their seat ready!
2. Start slow and build trust! If a child just eats potato chips and apple sauce, don't start with broccoli, maybe don't even start with apples or potatoes. Perhaps just eating preferred foods for a short time in a fun and exploratory way will set a positive expectation of therapy and what eating is all about.
3. Make it fun! Yes, eating is a basic life need and many cultures push that children need to just eat what's given to them without all the fanfare. But when some kids don't respond to that, they end up in our clinic. We know how to make it fun! Food can do anything with a little imagination. We can make celery ramps, tomato cars, cucumber princesses and so much more. We can play basketball and shoot grapes into a cup, paint with chocolate pudding, facepaint with whipped cream!