Mealtime can be stressful, often with your child challenging your attempts to have them try new foods. Some days, your child may not go to the table or sit in their chair long enough to even offer new foods! However, establishing a set routine and regular meals may be the first steps to mealtime success.
What can a mealtime routine look like?
Why is mealtime so challenging for my child? And why is a routine and family meals so important?
Eating is one of the most challenging sensory activities for children. When we eat, all eight senses are working and integrating eight new pieces of information. The properties of the food change as we eat, for instance, as part of our five senses, the taste and smell changes as we chew. Additionally, our sense for self-movement and body position is working to use different amounts of jaw pressure. Our sense for balance and spatial orientation is working to re-adjust our balance as we chew. Lastly, our sense of the internal state of the body is being put to the test by requiring that we track the changes to our stretch receptors (on the stomach) to the changes to our appetite. Processing each of those sensory changes can be and is difficult for many children. Furthermore, eating is a multisensory experience; therefore, we need to help children’s sensory systems to be regulated before, during, and after meals to increase their feeding skills and sensory tolerance for new foods.
What can I do?
If your child is demonstrating some behaviors before or during mealtime and/or is a picky eater/problem feeder, consider contacting one of our speech-language pathologist or occupational therapists, who can provide your family with helpful tips and tricks to make mealtime less stressful and more fun!
Questions or concerns?
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s mealtime routine or feeding skills, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-332-9439.
Reference: Toomey, Kay A.. 2008/2010. Family Meals.
Kay A. Toomey, Ph.D. & Lindsay Beckerman, OTR/L., 2016. Explanation of The Role of Sensory Therapy In Advancing Feeding Goas.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Murray and amsw photography via pexels.com