The Importance of Supporting Children Who Have Eating Problems

Hello, I am the mother of an almost 12 year old daughter.  It has been a struggle ever since she moved from baby food to regular foods to get her to eat fruits or vegetables.  Thankfully, she remains healthy so far, but I am concerned about her health long-term with her limited intake of nutritional foods.  Mealtimes have always been a battle between trying to get her to try things and also not letting the situation monopolize family time.  She absolutely will not try any fruits – not even apple sauce.  Recently she tried a strawberry and just mulled it around in her mouth until she almost gagged and then spit it out.  I have tried “sneaking” pureed veggies into her diet over the years, sometimes with success, but sometimes I’m found out because she has an acute awareness of new tastes and textures.
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Long story short, I recently had her evaluated by a pediatrician, and after much questioning, he feels she has an oral sensory integration disorder (hypersensitivity) and has referred us to a speech therapist who specializes in this area.  I understand that this may well be the case, but have very little data from others who may have experienced this same thing with a child.  My husband is not on board at all with having her start therapy because he feels she is being stubborn and just needs to start eating.  This has been going on for 9+ years and I don’t see her changing anytime soon without some help.  Can you please give me some advice on how to best approach my husband?  I need good, accurate data showing why this sort of therapy would help her now as well as into the future.  I apologize for this lengthy story, but would appreciate any help/advice you can offer.
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Using Twizzlers as Spoons?!

Feeding Therapy Spoon Idea from ARK

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Feeding therapy tip: if a child won’t eat with a spoon, use whatever he/she WILL accept. In this feeding session, for instance, his favorite spoon was at home and he didn’t like any of the other spoons we had.  So, we tried a twizzler and voila!  He ate the entire container of food.
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You can also try dipping a Grabber, Y-Chew, or ARK Probe into whatever the child’s eating.  Getting them to eat the food comes first.  Getting them to use the right utensil can come later.  For ideas on how to de-sensitize kids to plates, cups, utensils, etc., click here.
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Debbie

Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP

5 Reasons Why Playing with Food Can Lead to Trying New Foods

5 Reasons Why Playing with Food Leads to Trying New Foods

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We’ve all heard the popular “Don’t play with your food!” mantra. But contrary to popular belief, playing with food is actually a wonderful way for kids to learn about and discover new foods. Why?
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1.  Trying a new food can be stressful, particularly for kids with sensory issues and/or food aversions. If you introduce a new food through play, you’re removing the pressure/anxiety of having to take a bite and consume it.

2.  Food play allows kids to take a step back from the fork. Food must never be forced, so you can use play as a a pre-feeding strategy to get kids to interact with foods that they normally would not, and to establish familiarity in a non-confrontational way.

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Tips to Accepting Different Food Textures

1.  Change the individual’s toothpaste.  It can be a change in flavor or a change in brand.  A different brand may have a different texture, one that is perhaps a little more gritty.  Also, changing the toothbrush to one that is a little harder or softer will get a different texture inside the mouth.
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2.  Massage the gums with a clean finger.  This adds sensory input into the mouth and works on acceptance of textures.
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decrease-texture-aversions.

3.  Feed the individual with the Z-Vibe or Textured Spoon Tip.  You can also try a Textured SpoonDuoSpoonTextured Grabber, or Y-Chew.  All of these tools have textured surfaces that work on oral sensitivities.
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4.  Make small alterations in the foods that the individual already accepts.  For example, if he/she likes biscuits, you can put a little mayonnaise (or some other kind of spread) on them.  It shouldn’t be more than 1/4 of a teaspoon, VERY little.  This may be a good starting point to add different flavors and textures.  Adding these to something he/she already eats is easier than introducing a whole new food.  You can also vary the kind of biscuits.  Maybe you could bake some together?
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5.  Play with the food to help them become more comfortable with foods.  Use this Pinterest board for inspiration.  There is a lot of room to be creative here!

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