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!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Visual Learning!

I am trying to capture realistic opportunities for the parents who cannot be a part of weekly feeding sessions to implement at home…both on video and in writing. I am hoping that others will find this beneficial as well. I am considering posting more video of some food prep with my daughter helping or just simple ‘how to’ videos of food that was targeted during a session. The video serves a dual purpose—watching the video with your child can plant the seed so to speak. He may feel a little more anxious when not knowing what to expect and often being in the same vicinity as the undesired food triggers anxiety. Video on the other hand is a safe way to explore what would otherwise induce anxiety. Watch a video, talk about it and give it a try! I also feel it is important to do what you can to mentally prepare your child for any new food or change. I talk more about this in an example given in the post entitled The Bigger Picture.

Back to the topic of video learning—I recommend that parents of these very selective little ones watch some of Roni’s videos with her son on her website GreenLiteBites. She has so many great video clips of how food exploration should be! I came across this particular post Crazy Fruit Day the other day and wrote to her immediately asking if she would mind if I linked this video to my site. New fruits, new experiences, no pressure---this is hard to teach! Positive outlooks are so contagious! So I encourage you to watch this video and first and foremost take note of the comfort level between both parent and child in relation to the food. With a child who has a hard time getting past even touching or smelling the food you take several steps back…maybe talk about the color and the shape and use your own judgement with setting your expectations beyond what you feel is his level of comfort. This will pay off in the long run! It can be easy to confuse “What you Know you need to target” and “How to target”…for example you may know that your child is having a very negative response to your requests to touch a food. This is because it is being asked of him and his anxiety is still pretty high. Incorporating these sensory steps is also a process as is eating. Instead of saying “Can you touch the food?” you could try asking your child to hand you pieces of food or help clean up as well as incorporate other nonfood sensory play: play dough, rice or bean box, shaving cream, textured balls and other toys, etc. There are many articles on these topics and websites dedicated to sensory integration that may be very helpful in your child’s acceptance of food and the many steps involved in eating.