Fun with Food!

Welcome to Fun with Food! This site was designed to help parents and caregivers find, share and ask about fun foods for your selective toddler!

As a speech-language pathologist specializing in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders, I encounter many children who have experienced negative associations surrounding food. These children often have accompanying oral motor feeding difficulties and sensory processing difficulties--making eating a very stressful experience instead of an enjoyable one.

This website will hopefully serve as an "idea place" for meals as well as questions and support from other parents and caregivers. Enjoy!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Snippets of Success

After attending an awesome Food Chaining workshop with presenters Cheri Fraker, Laura Walbert and Sibyl Cox I felt compelled to share some of my own home video clips of me working on some new foods with my daughter. I have said to my families many times that the kids I work with often surpass my own child in terms of food repertoire simply because I do not take the time to work one on one with some difficult 'new' foods! Aren't we parents all guilty of that? Despite what we know we sometimes like to take the easy way out. On a good week I love to have Adalyn help in the kitchen (especially where new foods are concerned) and we make an effort to sit down and eat as a family in the evenings to enjoy each other and our meal. In this video we are using an activity for positive reinforcement, but it is not an expectation for the food to have to be eaten--however the foods are a variation of something she already accepts so it is likely that she will want to try them. For example Adalyn loves pancakes and loves frozen blueberries but will typically refuse a blueberry pancake. In this video she chooses a blueberry pancake cut into a butterfly shape (cookie cutter) and is also given some other new food choices such as sweet potato fries, spinach artichoke nugget and veggie mac pasta with spaghetti sauce. My therapy tools are novel to her as they usually stay in my office or car, so that was a bonus in her willingness to try new foods.

Aside from my training and experience at Carolina Pediatric Dysphagia in Raleigh I came across a great resource, a gigantic book entitled Pre-Feeding skills. I was familiar with the book from my time at Arkansas Children's hospital as a graduate student, but I really grew to use this resource when I had 8 feeding patients per day in Raleigh, all with varying needs. The more I read and practiced this in daily therapies or evaluations, the more it just made sense to me and the easier it was for me to sort of 'weed out' other beliefs and practices from various feeding experts, but incorporate certain aspects of other therapies into my own. It was clear to me that the clinic in Raleigh practiced in this same way and we all learned from each other, sharing ideas and techniques. The authors Marsha Dunn Klein and Suzanne Evans Morris' outlook on feeding and the whole child approach is one that I have come to feel is necessary and have since felt about very passionately. As I am sure my Myer's Briggs "INFP" description (the idealist) would justify this calling! The truth is, folks, it is real and if I didn't feel it was right I would not be able to freely write without having 'writer's block'. I am sure there are many grammatical errors--please ignore!

When I worked in Raleigh I caught on to the fact that a child had less anxiety with foods that were similar in some ways to foods that they already accepted. I was also directing families to the article Expanding Children's Diets on a regular basis as I felt it was important for them to understand the need for a child to feel that comfort and safety with foods and approach their feeding concerns in a non threatening way. There is of course more to it than this and I strongly encourage anyone who has a child with feeding difficulties to seek out help from a speech-language pathologist and/or occupational therapist who has a similar philosophy as hopefully you will find on this site and others. So...Later I find out that these 'similar properties' are the same concepts in Food Chaining. I KNOW this because I attended a course over the weekend! So if you happen upon my site please check out their book and website at

I hope you enjoy the video clips! Please don't wait for help if you find you really need it. Another point that was reiterated at the conference I that also stood out to me at a Kay Toomey conference and I feel has become part of my 'evaluation speech' and training for other feeding therapists for the last 5 years is "Only 3 percent of children with feeding difficulties are truly behavioral in nature. 3 percent" So find your support team, they are out there! Althoug I miss my time in a pediatric feeding clinic in Raleigh and am so grateful for my experience there, I now work with a fantastic team at Carolina Pediatric Therapy and we all turn to each other for consulting and help within the various disciplines!

Here we are collecting items for our 'lunchbox'--a cute game one of my therapy families found and laminated for us to use!
Taking turns!


Unknown said...

you got to go to cheri's seminar???? i am so jealous! i would love to meet her and go to a workshop!!! when are you coming down here? i would love for you to meet jackson and give me another fabulous pep talk. on a whole jackson is doing well and thriving but I have slowed our "therapy" and he is comfortable for now and I haven't expanded to any new foods in awhile. it is all so exhausting. anyway, just wanted to stop in and say hiya and keep the great blogging coming!!

Kristina--Picky Tots said...

Sara--Hi! I am not 100% sure I am coming to ASHA since it is in November and is coming up so quickly, but I would still love to meet you sometime! I know it is exhausting and I think it is good to slow down when things get stressful...besides you are starting back to work and school just started again for him. Hopefully just the socialization in school will spark some new interest in a few new foods?? Thanks for the encouraging words...the conference was great!