Occupational Therapy Strategies to Improve Feeding Habits

  • August 20, 2016

Are you having problems expanding your child’s diet? It is quite common for children to have feeding challenges at a young age. Your child may be a picky eater who struggles at mealtimes. You should know that eating is a developmental process. Diets change over time as your child gets more comfortable with food. Statistics show that children between the ages of two and three years old tend to be selective eaters. This is because that particular phase of development is usually associated with the fear of trying new foods.

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Fear of foods

As mentioned earlier, the fear of new foods is particularly common in children between the ages of two to three years old. This developmental phase causes them to be selective eaters. You may have to determine what works best for your child and how you can work with them to expand their diets. In the case of developmental delays in children, selective eating usually occurs at a later stage. The good news is that you do not have to panic when your child is going through this critical phase. These changes are considered normal. Most children will learn to balance their food choices and eat a variety of foods over time.  Here are some tips that will help improve your child’s eating habits.

Texture aspect

Food texture refers to the general feel of the food in terms of smoothness, thinness, and sometimes lumpiness. A child between 0-13 months typically gains nutrition through breast milk or bottle milk. Between the period of 6 months and 10 months, a child can have thin and thick purees. As the child grows and develops, the texture of introduced foods changes progressively. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the texture aspect.

Sensory aspect

A child will embrace new foods based on their senses. To increase a child’s food tolerance, occupational therapists recommend allowing your child to experience an array of foods through smell, sight, texture and taste. There are a number of activities that you can do to give your children experience with food. These include asking them to smell new foods, touch food, make teeth marks on food, taste new foods or even join the food preparation and cooking process.

Environmental aspect

The environmental factor is one of the crucial aspects to consider with children who have difficulty eating. It may entail creating schedules for meals, eating as a family, reducing distractions, selecting an appealing setting and a supportive atmosphere, portioning and designing meals. When writing a meal schedule, ensure that it is totally clear and understandable to your child. It may be beneficial to use a timer to define meal times. Create healthy snacking time in your meal schedule. More importantly, ensure that there are times to drink water between meals while limiting empty calories from juice.

It is possible to improve the eating habits of your child. If you are dealing with any feeding issues, these tips will be beneficial. You should begin to see a positive change in your child’s eating habits over time.

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