Don’t we all love food???? We take it for granted that everyone eats or at least learns to eat automatically. And then we realize that we have a Picky Eater in our lives who tests our very understanding of consuming edibles! The Picky Eater may be difficult but also inspires us to understand their needs in this crazy world of food and eating!!!. So, read on and I hope you can gain some tips on what to do with your Picky Eater!
The Top 9 Things to Consider for Helping Your Picky Eater:
- Rule out medical concerns – Any sickness, chronic constipation, allergies, sensory concerns, etc. Check with your medical professionals!
- Reflect – How important is increasing food tolerance for you and your child? If it is, start by making a list of foods that are commonly eaten in your home that you are ready to introduce to your child. Make sure to include foods that your child is starting to show preference for, in terms of texture, color, taste.
- Reflect again using a food log to determine what your child regularly eats – analyze patterns that are seen – are they all white food, Are the foods mushy, crunchy, etc.
- Prepare to tackle this with reinforcing the task with some highly preferred food or toy or activity to use after working on this skill.
- Don’t forget – it may take up to 10 exposures to a food before some interest is shown.
- Review logical steps to introduce the food – Look, Touch, Hold, Smell, Bring close to mouth, Lick/taste, Bite a small piece, Keep in mouth (slowly increasing time – even by seconds), Chew a small piece, swallow, Chew off a bigger piece, swallow, repeat
- Provide the opportunity for each step, then after about 15-30 minutes if no progress is made at all, it is okay to remove the item and then present tolerated food for the child to consume and to not go hungry.
- Try again after a short break…some children can come back to work on this task again after a small break. It is okay if your kiddo does not. You can try again the next mealtime or day. Don’t give up.
- Don’t be dejected by the gagging, spitting out, and throwing up…. this is the “not so cool” part of the process. Do go easy with the introduction of the food and take it one step at a time.
What do you need the most as a caregiver?????
Patience, consistency, and faith in the process!!! It sure is worth it!
Your BCBA at Key Autism Services can support and guide you through this process. The toughest part of this is when you are by yourself without the staff. Have no worries, a step-by-step plan and log will be provided for you to follow along and complete. This will support analysis of the process and modifications may be made to ensure that getting your child to tolerate different types of is steadily improving.
What are you waiting for? Contact your BCBA to provide you with guidance and support! Let’s get your Picky Eater to eat more …to support health, for growth and to improve overall quality of life!
Best of luck!