What do you do when your child is a picky eater? This is a question we have received from one of our readers and we’d love to explore that topic a little deeper in this issue of Thrive.
Picky eating is not unheard of in young children, and even more common in children with special needs. First, let’s explore the difference between picky eating and food aversions or serious food disorders that need medical intervention. Picky eating begins to be a serious problem when kids begin to become undernourished and are not thriving. When picking eating reaches this level, your child may need clinical intervention. This may be for a number of reasons: over-stimulated senses (or under-stimulated), anxiety, OCD, other fears, etc.
In this issue of Thrive, we are simply going to talk about your child’s picky eating as a non-clinical issue. As always, if your child is seeing a therapist or physician, before starting something at home, speak with them as to not interfere with any treatment plan they are already receiving.
Stay Calm! – It is very frustrating when you are trying to get your child to eat and they seem to not want to eat anything. Your child is going to pick up on emotions that you are feeling and is going to get frustrated as well. If you are calm, your child is more likely to respond in kind.
Don’t Force Foods – Forcing food on children distresses them, frustrates you and builds up negative associations with food. Every parent wants their child to eat every food group at every meal and embrace good nutrition, but forcing that on your child is going to actually result in the opposite. As long as your pediatrician says your child is growing adequately and they are healthy, pick your battles – and they don’t have to be over every green vegetable.
It Takes Time – Eating is a developmental process, and this takes time. Working with your child in this process may not always take steps forward, they may include steps back. You may need to ask for help; they may even need intervention from a professional. Take a deep breath and realize that every child develops at their own pace.
For those kids that prefer soft foods, try using a food processor and make creamy chicken salad or blend up vegetables and proteins to hide in dips or sauces. For children who like a crunchy texture, serve fresh raw vegetables instead of cooked vegetables or baked potato wedges instead of mashed potatoes.
If your child is particular to a specific color when it comes to eating, try hiding foods in their preferred color-friendly sauces. Smoothies are also a great alternative and can be made to be a preferred color. You can also encourage new colors with a game using a chart to introduce new colors.
To help introduce new foods, try involving your child in choosing what they would like to try eating and have them help with the meal preparations. Try combining a food they like with a new one. Many kids will at least try an item that they have spent time choosing and preparing themselves.
“Food Chaining” is another great tool to adding new foods into your child’s diet. The idea of food chaining is to start with foods that your child already likes and introduce similar items into their meals. For example, if your child likes chicken nuggets, try breaded fish sticks or mozzarella sticks. If your child likes spaghetti with tomato sauce, try putting tomato sauce on shredded chicken. Some children love to dip their foods and you can present a new food like raw carrots with a familiar dip such as ranch or guacamole.
If you have had a good experience introducing new foods to your picky eater, or have any other tips you’d like to share, we’d love to hear your experience – it takes a village! Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Local Events & Resources
MAGIC Dance Arts Partners with Primetime Martial Arts to offer Sensory-Friendly Karate/Tumbling!
Fridays 4:30 – 5:30 pm
Primetime Martial Arts
6179 Santa Teresa Blvd., San Jose, CA 95123
Kick & Roll (Karate/Tumbling):
This class incorporates basic karate and tumbling skills. Students will participate in a warm-up routine, learn simple martial arts progressions across the floor, and become introduced to beginning tumbling skills on mats.
Azure Family Concert: Strings of Summer
June 30, 2017, 4:30 pm
Braun Music Center, Stanford University
541 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
The Azure Family Concert features the guest and student musicians of the SLSQ Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford, with host pianist Stephen Prutsman.Since many with Autism (or related challenges) cannot attend traditional music performances due to uncontrollable vocalizations or physical movements, the St. Lawrence String Quartet and long-time collaborator pianist Stephen Prutsman, felt a real need to create a musical environment whereby not only are such behaviors not frowned upon, but accepted and embraced.
Azure concerts are approximately one hour in length. Family members and caregivers of all ages are welcome to attend.
“This customizable data tracking tool allows parents to easily track behaviors, interventions and symptoms in one place,” says Patricia Aguayo, MD, MPH, Medical Director Autism Services, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Hospital for Special Care. “Behaviors and symptoms can be rated, as well as particular medications and their doses, diet changes and therapies. Parents can also review trends in their child’s data and share these data with school and medical providers to inform treatment planning. This app is especially helpful for children with challenging behaviors, psychiatric conditions or both.”
Cost: Free to $9.99, depending on the version, available for iPhone and iPad.
See more expert-recommended apps for kids with Autism at Parenting.com
Ask A is for Apple
Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!