Picky Eaters / Problem Feeders
What It Is
If your child is a picky eater or a problem feeder, meal time seems like a chore or a battle to be won rather than quality time with the family. You may need a child food therapist to help.
This issue can range from children that take a long time to finish their meal or will only eat a few select items to those that vomit shortly after eating.
What You Should Know
There are a lot of possible reasons why your child might be struggling at meal time. The most common are:
- Physical reasons–They may have an oral motor weakness or an issue with their range of motion. They could have a tongue, lip or cheek tie making it difficult to eat. Or they could have serious gastrointestinal or reflux issues. Typically these kids have very strong food avoidance behaviors. In these scenarios, I refer and work closely with a gastroenterologist and/or dentist providing the appropriate evaluation and paperwork to help them move through the process as quickly as appropriate. I can provide pre- and post-lip and tongue-tie evaluations and therapy.
- Sensory reasons–This occurs with children who have difficulties with certain textures, smells, tastes or colors.
- Behavioral reasons--These children may not have a good meal time routine and may be eating frequent small meals (grazing) or will only eat certain brands.
As a child food therapist, my approach is very targeted and changes based on the results of the evaluation, but for many sensory and behavioral picky eaters I’ll use the SOS Approach to Feeding.
This feeding therapy technique focuses on incremental, progressive gains by acclimating the child or toddler and all of their senses to the food to overcome their aversion. For example, we start with smelling, touching, licking and before we then take a bite of the food.
I’ll also use a token board and reward system to incentivize progress, along with a big heaping portion of persistent patience, positive reinforcement and oftentimes ketchup or some sort of favorable dip, when appropriate. We work with what the child already knows and loves, and we build up from there.
I’ll also work with the parents to understand their feeding and meal time routines and behaviors so they can actively help the child reach their goals at home.
If you are looking for a child food therapist in Herndon, Reston or the Northern Virginia area, I can help! Send an inquiry today.
“Janine is an incredible practitioner who is knowledgeable and compassionate.
She evaluated my son for feeding issues and helped us to navigate a way forward when he was struggling to eat.
She was extremely thorough in her evaluation and went above and beyond to help us find answers during a very difficult time. I highly recommend her services and expertise.”