When your child will only eat certain foods, it can be frustrating. You feel bad feeding them macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets every day, and you know they’re not getting all of the nutrition they need. But differing from what they like can cause a meltdown. Oftentimes selective eating or emotional outbursts are attributed to the child just being a picky eater. But sometimes it is more than that.
Your child may not be being stubborn when it comes to trying new foods; there may be more to it. Problems with reflux, swallowing, textures, self-feeding, oral issues, and behavioral issues can all contribute to feeding difficulties. This in turn can affect their development and impact everyday life.
Children who are picky eaters tend to stick to the same foods, but they will try new ones and add some to their acceptable food list. Slowly their menu grows. They often have certain types of foods that they like.
Children with feeding disorders often refuse to try new foods and may stop eating foods they once ate. They may avoid specific types of foods. Their list of acceptable foods dwindles. It could be due to the texture or other sensory issues or physical issues. It may also be the result of cognitive challenges.
Whether your child is a picky eater or has a feeding disorder, they may benefit from pediatric feeding therapy. Feeding therapy can help to identify whether their struggles are due to physical problems with chewing and swallowing or whether it is texture or consistency. There may be several issues at play. A feeding therapist will work with them to increase the scope of foods they eat and incorporate new tastes and textures. Slowly they will work on trying new foods and decreasing disruptive behavior during mealtime.
When children are able to sit for longer and be open to eating different foods, it can make for a more beneficial and pleasant mealtime experience. Parents can feel more confident knowing their child is getting a broader range of nutrition with each meal, and they do not have to make the same thing every day. PediaPlex works with children who have feeding disorders or are picky eaters to address the individual challenges they face and help them to not only eat a wider variety of foods, but also improve self-feeding and regulation.
In addition to feeding therapy, children may also benefit from occupational therapy and speech therapy to address challenges. This can provide support for key issues related to feeding or sensory problems. It is a collaborative effort.
Treatment does not only occur at PediaPlex. Parents play an active role at home as well. It is important that you implement the same strategies at home or when out to eat that the therapists are using so that there is consistency and reinforcement. Children need to be exposed to new foods multiple times before they can truly decide whether or not they like them. Providing appropriate serving sizes and making trying new foods a fun and positive experience may help as well. Therapists and parents should work together to figure out what works best for each child and aligns with their needs and goals.
Don’t let feeding issues be a constant battle and affect your child’s development. Pediatric feeding therapy can provide the help your child needs to improve their eating and have more pleasant mealtime experiences.
Are issues with food a constant battle in your house? Find out how feeding therapy at PediaPlex can help.